Caleb and Joshua may be young, but that didn’t stop them from doing what they could to meet the needs they saw in their community. These Gambrills, MD brothers created Kid Changemakers, a nonprofit that serves the food insecure, unhoused and foster children.
When Caleb and Joshua were in elementary school, they looked for opportunities to volunteer, but they were turned away because they were too young. Instead of being discouraged, they looked for ways to serve with other young people.
“First and foremost, it’s our belief that no matter how old you are or what your means are, you have the ability to make a positive change in the world,” Caleb said. “While an individual can’t fix everything, we can provide margins, and the more of us who are active in our communities and helping those around us, the better shot we have at improving the world for everyone.”
To date, they have raised $100,000 in cash and grants serving communities in need. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they helped host pop-up pantries, giving over 100,000 diapers, 50,000 menstrual products and over 750,000 pounds of food to families.
“There’s a large need in our community, and we’ve been directly messaged about diaper needs in particular,” Joshua shared. “We see it in our everyday lives. Because of the pandemic and increased prices on diapers, tampons and pads, there was a big gap we wanted to help fill in our local area.”
The brothers are so passionate about diaper poverty that they lobbied to remove the diaper tax in Maryland, testifying before the State Senate. The bill gained bi-partisan support and Governor Hogan signed it into law in April. As a result, diapers in Maryland are no longer taxed, which will save families millions of dollars each year.
“Youth in particular have a powerful and strong voice,” Caleb noted. “When people see youth engaged with their communities, engaged with people around them, it’s highly inspiring. And youth have different ideas. They’re not restrained by the beliefs and structures that society and institutions have created over the last few centuries.”
While Kid Changemakers undoubtedly benefits recipients in the community, it also provides youth service opportunities for kids who want to get involved. Volunteering together, these bonds strengthen and friendships are lasting.
“Working in the pop-up pantries has been incredible,” Caleb shared. “It’s not just that we were providing for others. In a way, it was fulfilling for us, because it was such an isolating time during the pandemic. We were volunteering – and still volunteer – with friends… new friends, old friends. Working with people who you have a strong connection with, in anything but especially in service, has been incredibly important to us over the last several years. It’s something we want everyone to experience. it’s a privilege, and we want more kids to be involved.”
Kid Changemakers, which is made up of elementary through high school students and often their parents, hosts roughly one pop-up pantry event per month, plus coat drives and toy drives throughout the year. Additionally, they partner with other organizations to maximize their impact and broaden their scope of services.
To those looking to volunteer, Caleb offers some advice: “Nervousness is natural with anything new you do. But when you’re trying to approach service, follow what you like outside of service. Try to combine your passions – so if you like sports, find a way to volunteer with sports, for example. For youth trying to start service, it’s really all about trying. There are so many opportunities out there nowadays, and you just have to push yourself to overcome your nervousness and try to serve.”
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Caleb and Joshua? Find local volunteer opportunities.