Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Tee Shirt Says It All

Teens all wear tee shirts to express who they are and the members of youth2-youth helping youth are no exception. But when you read the quotation on these teens’ shirts you immediately know these kids have picked a pretty admirable role model:
 “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others.” Gandhi
On Saturday youth2 organized the second annual “Youth for Change:  Community Giving Fair.” These youth are looking to transform how we view holiday giving. Their challenge, “Let’s create opportunities to give meaningful life-giving gifts to change the world.” And they offered fairgoers the opportunity to do just that. Participants could bring gifts to help local organizations such as food for the Child Advocacy Center, pajamas for families in the domestic violence shelter, blankets and toiletries for the Backstretch Employee Service Team, hats and gloves for the teens at the Ballston Area Community Center. The focus didn’t end with Saratoga County though. There were opportunities to help the Heifer Project, purchase garden tools for Hospice Africa, and support drilling of wells so children can have safe drinking water in Africa. While many of us feel that the world’s needs are too great these kids emphasized that no contribution is insignificant. Even a nickel can purchase seeds so  our local organization Seeds for Peace can provide seeds for Haitian families to grow food and become self-sustaining.

Throughout the fair the youth inspired us with messages of how giving builds a community. An old familiar story, Stone Soup, took on new meaning when fairgoers lunched on delicious homemade stone soup from bowls crafted by Skidmore’s pottery class… and then took the bowl home as a reminder to keep the day’s theme of helping others in mind throughout the year. The Saratoga Performing Youth Artists wowed the group with their performance of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree (in fact they were brought back by very popular demand later in the day for an encore performance of the play.) Fairgoers were challenged to pick up a 5 gallon container of water. For those who basked in pride with well exercised biceps, the glory was short-lived when they learned that young girls in third world countries don’t go to school, but instead spend eight-hour days carting vessels with this amount of water from the river up mountains so their family can have water. Eight hours a day they carry the equivalent of 5 gallons of water (that’s 41.8 lbs) on their heads up a mountain and climb back down and do it all over again-- every day!

Did you miss the Giving Fair? No problem, check out the Youth2 website  www.youthsquared.org  to view their Book of Good Deeds and find out about local volunteer and social action opportunities. Here’s a suggestion from the fair to get you started:
Take the H20 Challenge.  For 2 weeks drink only water, no soda, juice, etc. Save the money you would normally have spent on soda, juice, etc. Donate this money to drill wells in Africa so children and their families will have safe drinking water.

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