Michael Tamkin, a senior in high school, has conceived and developed Films for Friends, a student-initiated community service program. This program focuses on collecting and distributing movies to homeless assistance programs, hospitals, rehabilitation center, low-income families, centers for abused children and other charitable organizations that may be able to use the same. It was conceived to provide information and entertainment to people who would not otherwise have this opportunity.
Since its inception in 2002, this organization has donated in excess of 1,000 videos to various programs like the Boys and Girls Clubs, Westside Children’s Center, Saint John’s Hospital, One Voice, Exceptional Children’s Foundation and Ocean Park Community Center. The goal of this project is not only to provide a respite from the stresses of daily life, but also to reassure less fortunate people that students have a genuine interest in their well being.
Michael’s interest in helping other grew throughout his continued service to the homeless community. He has volunteered more than 400 hours at local soup kitchens, food pantries and other assistance programs. He also works after school to prepare sandwiches for delivery to local homeless shelters. While working at various shelters, he realized the people attending would like to watch a movie along with receiving nutritious meals and supplies. Watching films helps to enhance the social environment and make the experience more relaxing and friendly.
Under Michael’s leadership, Films for Friends collects new and used videos from his high school. Through flyers, advertisements, speeches and drives, Michael has encouraged many students to donate videos to the project. The movies are then matched by age and content so that appropriate videos will be donated to the proper organizations. Films for Friends not only benefit those receiving the donations, but it also encourages high school students to develop the gift of sharing with others. Students can develop a life-long interest in volunteering to help others.
Films for Friends has greatly benefited the lives of those who are the recipients of the movies. They have received numerous letters from program directors and individuals. Abused and neglected children who welcome the chance for entertainment and fun have especially appreciated the videos.
Since the beginning of his project, there has been an interest by those wanting to receive and those wanting to give. Michael is currently seeking corporate donations and sponsorships so that Films for Friends can expand to deliver an even larger and more varied selection to a greater number of organizations. He will continue to use this innovative idea to reach out and raise the spirits of those who need help in the community.