If you’re interested in putting your passion and skills to work, but aren’t sure where to start, look towards the next generation! There are so many opportunities to support kids and teens by inspiring them, supporting them and investing in them. Here are three ways you can get involved by helping kids and teens:
1. Share a story
Students who struggle to read at an early age fall further behind and are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. Getting youth excited about reading is an easy way to combat this statistic and get involved! Organizations like Ohana100, First Book, and Reach Out and Read provide gently used books to kids, as well as opportunities to become a volunteer reader. You can also contact your local libraries and schools, which are often looking for volunteer readers for story times.
2. Help alleviate hunger
Many kids and teens – including 13 million in the United States – are facing hunger and food insecurity. You can run a food drive and provide donations to your local food pantry, or serve meals at a soup kitchen. There are also lots of innovative ways to help the hungry! Make Your Mark on Hunger grantee Kate Atschinew started a coupon club called Cutting Out Hunger, which uses the concept of extreme couponing to help the hungry. Using couponing allows Kate to buy bulk food at a deep discount for her local food pantry; she also teaches community members how to use coupons to buy food at a lower cost and in a dignified way. To find ways you can help fight hunger in your community, visit www.generationOn.org/hunger.
3. Be a role model
Sometimes it’s not what you do, it’s just being there that’s enough to make a difference! Organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and Mentor are always looking for adult volunteers to participate and mentor youth. Exposing kids and teens to other options outside of their usual environment can go a long way to showing them there’s no limit to what the future can hold for them.