The news from the past week has been the stuff that nightmares are made of, and I think we are all ready for some good news for a change, a heartwarming story or two, yes? As always, I have been out digging for good people, and as always, I found some! I always like it when I find young people who at an early age have discovered the joy of helping others, and so tonight I’ve decided to highlight a few such youths …
Max Bobholz, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, was only 12 years old when he came up with the idea to create a charity to provide baseball equipment to children in Africa.While watching the 2012 Little League World Series on his television, a profile of the Ugandan team describing how the players sometimes lacked shoes and often shared bats and baseballs gave Max an idea. He thought about all of the extra bats, balls and equipment that he and his friends had in their garages and homes.
Max’ parents weren’t too keen on the idea at first, but they realized he was serious when that year he told them that all he wanted for Christmas was their help in turning his idea into reality. With their help, he founded Angels at Bat and, thus far, he has donated over 10,000 pieces of equipment to kids in need in Kenya and Nigeria! Along with this, Max has traveled to Africa several times to donate equipment and the trips double as opportunities for Max and others to teach baseball to children who’ve never played it.
His charity has grown to include six branches in other towns around the USA, and Angels at Bat was recognized as the primary source of baseball equipment for the entire country of Kenya by the President of Kenya’s Little League. Last year, Max started college at the University of Wisconsin, but he says he will still be continuing his work with Angels at Bat, that he intends it to last “beyond college and beyond my lifetime.”
Recently, Max, now age 18, was honored by CNN as one of 5 Young Wonders, for his amazing spirit of giving and service.
Sonika Menon’s family has always made a really big deal over birthdays. Awareness that other kids weren’t so lucky came to Sonika when she was 14, growing up in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Sonika formed the Birthday Giving Program, a nonprofit that brings birthday parties to kids and families in need, but it goes even beyond that. I’m going to let Sonika’s personal message from the Birthday Giving Program’s website tell you a bit about it all …
My name is Sonika Menon and I am the founder of The Birthday Giving Program, a 501c3 organization. My cousin, Rinna Talwar, is the founder of the Senior Citizen Division. We decided to start this program to help those who aren’t able to afford a family member’s birthday. While watching our own parents go all out on our birthdays, we realized that there are many who are less fortunate than us. Through this program, we found out that we could make a difference one person at a time.
We serve children, teenagers, mentally/physically challenged adults, and senior citizens. Teenagers and adults are neglected by many other charities because they are harder to provide for, but The Birthday Giving Program has decided to take on this challenge. Our program currently supports the northwest suburbs in Chicago, Illinois.
These birthday bags are able to teach children the importance of giving to others. Adults receive the privilege of knowing that people love and care for them no matter what challenges they face. Eventually, both children and adults realize their potential to have an impact on the lives of others.
For a single parent, the cost of a birthday can prove to be burdensome. Birthdays can prove to play a significant role in a child and adult’s life. They give children and adults the confidence, respect, and love they need to commemorate their existence in the world.
I am going into 10th grade this year. In high school, I am planning to create a club to help recruit more volunteers. Rinna Talwar is going into 9th grade and is hoping to bring The Birthday Giving Program to her school through Student Council. After consulting with directors of various organizations, The Birthday Giving Program expanded to provide achievement parties as well as welcome boxes while still continuing the birthday giving concept. Our goal is to provide for as many people as possible and the sky’s the limit!
Katie Stagliano was just nine years old when she planted a cabbage seed in a garden outside her house. She cared for it every day by watering it, weeding it and giving it plant food. It grew to be HUGE! Forty pounds huge!Katie wanted to do something special with this very unique cabbage. With her mom’s help, she decided to donate it to a local soup kitchen to help feed the hungry in her community of Summerville, South Carolina.
When she arrived to make her donation, she saw a long line of people waiting for food. Then, Katie served her cabbage to the guests. As the many people thanked her, she knew she could and should do more to help.
With the help of her parents and school, Katie’s Krops was born. Katie’s Krops plants gardens to grow food that is donated to local soup kitchens to feed the hungry.
Katie’s dream is to end hunger around the world. So, after she created several gardens in her community, she decided to do more. She wanted to help other kids create gardens in their communities. There are now over 100 Katie’s Krops gardens growing across the United States! All of the gardens are led by kids between the ages of 9 and 16. They have donated thousands and thousands of pounds of fresh produce to people in need!
Too often today we hear only the negative side, and more than once I’ve heard that the problem with today’s kids are that they are lazy, not being raised right, selfish, etc. Max, Sonika, and Katie are just three examples of the good things young people are doing to make the world a little better place. Let’s try to focus more on the good, and less on the not-so-good, shall we?