3 Social Issues Facing Millennials and Future Generations

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 11:58 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The lives and futures of Millennials are shaped by technological and environmental factors that no other generation has faced before. The technological advances that brought computers, cell phones, and the Internet into the homes of everyday people have changed the way we live our lives and interact with others. Changes in population and production have increased the standard of living in some countries, while also increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. These economic developments, along with advances in technology, have created a more globalized and interconnected world. 

Some of these changes have been positive and others negative, but our ability to meditate on our actions in the context of the future will shape how we expand positive changes and resolve the negative ones.   Though the future is uncertain, we can try to use our knowledge of the present to forecast the changes, advances, and difficulties of tomorrow. When we look into the future, we must consider how these changes and movements will shape the social issues that Millennials and future generations will have to confront.

Inequality: Inequality is a difficult problem that has existed throughout history and can manifest itself in a variety of settings. An article published in the Journal of Future Studies by Lorne Tepperman and James Curtis entitled “Social Problems of the Future” explains that “inequality is firmly entrenched in our society” because ideological, religious, cultural, and regional differences are a constant boundary resulting from generations of social rift. globe-peopleEconomic inequality is the most concerning form of inequality because, and as Tepperman and Curtis explain, in a globalized and industrialized world economy, the gap between the developed and developing world presents the greatest boundary to achievig social equality. Tepperman and Curtis predict that inequality is a virtually insoluble problem.

While it may be true that inequality is one of the most challenging and diverse issues of the future, the Millennial generation does possess some of the tools to tackle the problem of inequality. The Pew Research Center’s report “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” found that on the topic of inequality, “[t]he Millennial generation is somewhat more supportive of efforts to ensure equal rights than are members of older age groups.” It is predicted that Generation Z and future generations will be stronger advocates for equality. Given their technological prowess and purpose-driven work ethic, Millennials certainly have the tools, potential, and attitude to reduce inequality in our society.   

Environment: Threats to the safety of our environment are a growing problem. The rising global population and limits of earth’s ability to sustain such a large population is a growing concern for the future. While some regions are able to produce surpluses of food and necessities, others face scarcity and famine. The consequences of pollution and green house gas emissions from industrial activity and transpiration are a threat to the environment. nature-1364893805KIBAs Tepperman and Curtis explain, “Many scientists and theorists believe that unless changes are made today, environmental problems will become more severe and their consequences more intense in the future. Already, the world’s temperature has increased . . . [leading to] more frequent droughts and famines . . . higher rates of skin cancer, and more extreme weather.” Millennials are responsible for making immediate lifestyle changes that are friendly to the environment. Making these changes today will ensure that future generations will still have a planet they can appreciate and care for.

 

Technology: In recent history, technological advances have occurred at one of the fastest rates. From the development of the computer and the Internet to mapping of the human genome, these changes are weighted with both potential and responsibility. In response to recent advancements, Millennials will be faced with redefining ethical boundaries to consider issues such as genetic engineering in humans to internet privacy. Students_work_on_projectTechnology is also widening the amount of information available to people. In the future, it will be important for the next generation to harness technology to make knowledge more accessible, as knowledge is a source of empowerment and a way of reversing inequality. It will also be important to ensure the integrity of information and to make sure that the spread of ideas is not abused and saturated with unreliable or harmful information. In a world of social media, the realms of reality and identity are being challenged, as people are able to redefine themselves in the digital world. It will be important to use these social platforms as a way to increase communication and build healthier relationships rather than become a way of distorting reality and damaging human connection. Future generations will be handed a technology driven world, with the responsibility to use this technology to empower others and solve social issues.

Thinking about the future and trying to foresee its challenges is difficult and inexact task. However, the more we consider how our actions today will affect tomorrow, the more we are able to see that our willingness to implement change and social good will have a direct impact of solving foreseeable problems. Luckily, Millennials value volunteering and purpose-driven work. As one of the most civically engaged and technologically connected generations, Millennials have both the ability and responsibility to create a better world for the future. As Tepperman and Curtis write in their essay predicting issues of the future, “the goal of future studies is only partly to paint a picture of what life may be like for subsequent generations. Its more important task is to imagine a desirable alternative future for people to work towards, a future that is actively shaped by the decisions of people living today.”

Related:
Millennials Look for Meaningful Work

How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

 

 

Topics: youth impact, millennials, social justice

Planting the Seeds for a Successful Service-Learning Program

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 08:35 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.
 

“Students are always asking, 'when will I ever use this,' and so service-learning, for me as an educator, has always answered that question by giving them opportunities to solve problems.”

– Brenda Elliott-Johnson, Executive Director of Student Services and Character Development for Guilford County Schools

The 25th annual National Service-Learning Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. this year from April 9-12.  This conference invites educators and students from across the nation to attend workshops, hear keynote speakers, and engage in service. The event brings together civically engaged young people to share the impact of service-learning and volunteerism. This year the conference will focus on teaching leadership, advocating for service-learning on Capitol Hill, and service opportunities across the globe.

One of the conference presenters is Brenda Elliott-Johnson, the Executive Director of Student Services and Character Development for Guilford County Schools and 2014 recipient of the G. Bernard Gill Urban Service-Learning Award. I sat down with Elliott-Johnson to learn how a successful service-learning program is started in schools and to learn how service-learning can serve as a tool for educators.

______________________________________________________________________________


Natasha:
How did you become involved in service-learning. Where did it all start?

Elliott-Johnson: I started with service-learning as a teacher, and so that would have been almost twenty years ago. I just really tried to figure out ways to take what students were learning in school to some real world examples. Students are always asking, “when will I ever use this,” and so service-learning, for me as an educator, has always answered that question by giving them opportunities to solve problems.  

In Nashville I was still really involved a lot of organizations.  I was a Student Council sponsor at my high school. I was involved in a program which helps young people think of ways to address bias, bigotry, and discrimination.  We had a lot different ways that we were helping young people solve community problems.  

I was a science teacher and we had a group of young people—I taught at a predominantly African American school—and there was a concern about the lack of African Americans going into the field of science.  Our students developed a website to promote African American students into the fields of science by highlighting local people who were working in those different areas.

As a principal, I also served on a number of community boards including a Youth Holding Power project that I helped to sponsor, which was a national project that had youth leading school reform efforts, and a Youth Impact Project.

Natasha: You’ve won an award and you will be attending the National Service-Learning Conference. Can you tell me a little about that?

Elliott-Johnson: The National Youth Leadership Council holds an annual National Service-Learning Conference, which bring together students, teachers, and researchers in the field of service-learning. This is our third year, as a school district, to participate. The last three years we have been able to bring students so they can see what other students are doing around the country in the field of service-learning, as well as share our practices and learn about other opportunities for service-learning.

We are glad to be able to do that this year. It’s going to be a big deal, and one of the events includes is a visit to our elected officials – to actually go on Capitol Hill and talk about the importance of this type of learning.

Natasha: Can you tell me about the evolution of service-learning here in Guilford County?

Elliott-Johnson: Our superintendent, when he came in 2008, did listening tours around the city. What he heard over and over again was that something was missing from the education of our students. Whether he talked to parents, students, community, or teachers, they all said the same thing. They felt that it was character—that our students needed to have good character and they also needed to make a positive difference in their community, not just when they graduated.  So out of that came our district’s Character Development Service-Learning Initiative, back in 2008.  

Our original goal was to expand character development and service-learning district-wide. We’ve had some tremendous work happen, including in the last three years for our high school seniors to document more than 600,000 hours of service and more than 2000 of our graduates to earn service-learning recognition. We have a lot of youth that are engaged.  More than 10,000 have been engaged in service-learning in communities and schools. I’m just so excited about it. We’re just beginning to measure the footprint that our youth are leaving in our community: that 600,000 hours is more than a $14 million impact. They [youth] have a lot of innovativeness that we could benefit from as a community.   

To clarify, students in Guilford County School’s service-learning program can earn recognition for their service in two forms.  They can earn an Exemplary Award by tracking at least 100 hours of service-learning using NobleHour, or they can earn a Service-Learning Diploma by completing at least 250 hours of service-learning. 

To keep track of all the hours students complete for their service-learning recognitions, Guilford County schools turned to NobleHour to help make this process easier and more efficient.  As Brenda explains, to fulfill the superintendent’s vision of service-learning “…we had to find a system that we could easily use to capture these hours. We looked at a lot of different products, and NobleHour seemed to be the one that really stood out for us and has helped us to be able to capture that data.”  The impact of these hours is changing the lives of students and community members.  Educators in Guilford County have started a successful service-learning program that is growing and taking learning beyond the classrooms and into the real world.  

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community engagement, youth impact, millennials, engagement, high school, service learning, k12, experiential learning, NYLC, National Volunteer Month

This Summer, Students Become Changemakers at UF: Apply Now!

Posted by Pia Simeoni on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 @ 03:55 PM

This post was updated on 3/3/2015 

social entrepreneur summer camp

Apply now to be a part of the 2015 UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability (YELS) Summer Program.

YELS teaches students about Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Sustainability through academic courses, community service, activities, events, and field trips, and campus life.

Students will complete over 75 hours of community service (towards the requirement for Bright Futures Scholarships or the service portion of IB CAS hours). After class each afternoon, students work in teams volunteering with local nonprofit organizations. On Saturdays, we begin the day with service plunges and then have fun-in-the-sun in the afternoon. Past projects have included: tutoring & mentoring at-risk students, planting community gardens, renovating the homes of low-income disabled and elderly folks, playing with preschoolers & building a playground, conducting home-energy audits to lower the utilities bills of disadvantaged families, removing invasive species from local waterways, weeding and pruning at an organic blueberry farm, and building a butterfly garden. By participating in YELS this summer, you really can, as Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.


Please share this info with anyone who might be interested:

The University of Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) is pleased to announce our 9th Annual Pre-College Summer Program for High School Students: UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability Summer (YELS) Program.

This program is for motivated, college-bound rising juniors and seniors who are interested in Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Sustainability.

From June 21 through July 24, 2015, program participants will take two college-level courses at UF: ENT4934 - Exploring Entrepreneurship & SYG2010 - Social Problems & Solutions.
Participants will also complete 75+ hours of community service (towards the requirement for Bright Futures Scholarships + IB CAS hours). Students will participate in evening and weekend programing including a Speaker Series, mentor partnerships with Entrepreneurs and Nonprofit Leaders, field trips, visits with Gator Athletes, and other exciting events and activities. The program will culminate with an awards lunch on the final day, recognizing the students for their leadership and entrepreneurial spirit.

Students will work, eat, play, and sleep on campus during the five week program. They will be housed in Beaty Towers, near other high school students attending summer science & engineering programs. Participants will have access to the university's facilities including a newly renovated library, student union and arts center, and many state of the art recreation and sports facilities (including three fitness facilities, nine fields, two pools, six outdoor court facilities, and a gym).

Applications are NOW AVAILABLE

We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible, as we are processing applications on a rolling basis, with a deadline of March 1st.

Detailed information, including the application materials and scholarship applications are available on our website. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us, quickest replies will come by email.

For more information:

http://www.ufyoungentrepreneurs.org/

Contact:

social impact and social entrepreneurship at UF

Dr. Kristin Joos, Director
info@ufyoungentrepreneurs.org
352-273-0355


YELS was developed in Partnership with UF Center for Precollegiate Education & Training, UF Office of Youth Conference Services, UF Center for Leadership & Service, the UF Office of Sustainability, and the UF Innovation Academy.

Topics: summer, socent, college credit, volunteering, youth impact, college admissions, college applications, social entrepreneurship, scholarships

Carrying a Torch for Service: Volunteerism in the Olympic Games

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

Volunteers are an integral part of the Olympic Games.


This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The Olympic Games mark an exciting time of fierce competition and teamwork.  Both deep-rooted rivalries and camaraderie accompany the competition and sportsmanship that make the Olympics so special.  It is a time of national pride and of international friendship. Scarcely there comes a time, except during the Olympics, when classes or work will slow and the streets will quiet, but inside the cheers will roar in front of television screens.  For example, many classes and businesses stopped in both countries to witness the heated rivalry in last week’s Canada vs. USA men’s hockey game.  


One does not need to be an athlete to appreciate the Olympics.  Personally, I have not set foot on a track since running for a, thankfully singular, required physical education class. Watching sports on television typically results in my falling asleep, but I make one exception when the Olympics are on.  The Olympics have been a personal fascination of mine since childhood.  As a child I would imitate, albeit clumsily, the figure skaters on the television screen, seeing the Olympic stage as the realization of dreams.  However, Olympic dreams are made possible by more than just athleticism; volunteers facilitate the events, and in many ways volunteerism is a way anyone can make it to the Olympic stage.  


The tradition of volunteerism at the Olympics and Paralympics began in the London 1948 Olympics.  In recent history, 70,000 volunteer “Game Makers” assisted in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, donating 8 million hours of their time to make the games possible.  More than 25,000 volunteers helped at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.  Volunteers come to the Olympics to experience one of the biggest international sporting events, and their hard work reflects what I think is the most important elements of the Olympics: the altruistic spirit that together we can make dreams come true.


This past month in Sochi, 25,000 volunteers helped facilitate the Olympic games from start to finish.  They performed an impressive number of tasks to help the Olympics run smoothly.  In addition to their behind the scenes jobs at each sports event, volunteers in Sochi provided an air of hospitality to guests from around the world. Volunteers were present at airports to welcome guests, helped guests find transportation to their hotels and carried their month’s worth of luggage. They helped direct visitors, greet spectators at events, and ensure events ran on schedule. Brightly clad in the colourful jackets, which were the volunteers’ uniform for the games, they carried out all these jobs with both beaming smiles and excitement.


Sochi Olympic volunteers represent a uniquely young group.  Russian history has not always left space for the culture of volunteerism, and the Olympics represents a new tide of young people willing to come from near and far to give their time to helping others.  The average age of volunteers was 23, with 80 percent of volunteers younger than 30.  Many are university students.  Note that the average age of volunteers in the London 2012 Summer Olympics was 44 and in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was 45. In addition to the exhilarating experience of taking part in the Olympics, these young volunteers have also gained some skills and knowledge from their training prior to the games. Before the Olympics, most people in Sochi did not speak English, but every volunteer underwent basic language training in order to communicate with visitors.  


Volunteers for each Olympic event are selected by an application process.  Hundreds of thousands of applications roll in one to two years in advance.  The process pays special attention to language skills, problem solving, and other skills that might be helpful to facilitating the Olympics.  For example, medical skills may prove advantageous to help run drug screening for athletes.  However, being an Olympic volunteer does not require special skill sets, and volunteerism is a way in which anyone can be part of the Olympics, even if it means simply directing traffic and welcoming guests with a smile.  A large majority of volunteers, regardless of their assignments, reported that the experience of just being in the Olympics was unforgettable.


In Sochi and across Russia, many hope that a culture of volunteerism will continue to thrive after the Olympics.  The Olympic games are one of the best examples of how volunteerism can make an impact on the world.  Although the games have come to a finish for this year, I must say that the team I cheer for the most at each event is the vast team of volunteers.  


In a local sense, you can also take part in the spirit of Olympic volunteerism.  Volunteers are always in need for Special Olympics events in each state. Find opportunities on NobleHour and then come back to log your volunteer hours.

 

Image via Atos International

Topics: volunteering, opportunities, youth impact, millennials, community service, development, olympics

Opportunity Spotlight: Habitat for Humanity

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 @ 02:54 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide non-profit organization that works to bring “simple, decent, affordable housing” to families around the world. In developing countries, Habitat for Humanity works to provide housing for the world’s poor. Locally, Habitat affiliates and their volunteers build houses for low-income families. Homeowners repay interest-free loans for the material cost of their homes.

Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity is an accessible opportunity for people of all ages.  Youth volunteers must be at least sixteen years old to work on a construction site, but Habitat still encourages involvement from volunteers as young as five to engage in other areas of the organization’s work.  Some areas for young people to volunteer include:

  • Youth volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.Youth United is a program within Habitat that encourages and guides student-lead fundraising to help build Habitat homes in their communities.

  • Act! Speak! Build! Week is an advocacy group for a student-initiated week of awareness about the importance of addressing housing issues.

  • Campus Chapters are student organizations at high schools and colleges with four goals: build, fundraise, advocate, and educate.  Any student can start a Campus Chapter, provided your school does not already have one, by contacting their local Habitat affiliate for an application.

  • Collegiate Challenge is the opportunity for teams of young people aged 16 and up to donate a week of their school break to help end poverty housing.

Volunteer opportunities at Habitat are the chance to take part in solving the global housing crisis. Volunteers of all ages are invited to engage in their community via Habitat. In addition to volunteering locally, Habitat volunteers also work at long-term positions abroad or elsewhere in the United States. To get involved, contact your local Habitat affiliate to find our more about helping provide much needed housing to people in your local community.

Topics: volunteering, volunteering nonprofit, community engagement, youth impact, connecting communities, housing, habitat, development

Six Ways to Throw Holiday Parties with a Purpose

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Sat, Dec 14, 2013 @ 08:49 AM

It’s that time of year. Seems like there are multiple parties every week between now and New Year’s Day. Cookie exchanges, office parties, tree trimming parties, ugly holiday sweater parties, neighborhood get-togethers, family events, New Year’s Eve and don’t forget Festivus for the Rest of Us!

‘Tis the season to be jolly and spread good cheer with friends and family, but how about your community? This year why not have a holiday party with a purpose – one that shares good will to all men, women and children?

Let’s face it. While we may love getting gifts, we really don’t need one more candle, another box of candy, or a tin of popcorn. As the saying goes – it’s better to give than to receive. So in the spirit of the season, here are six simple ideas to truly enhance your holiday parties.

Pajama Program1. Instead of Secret Santa, collect new pajamas and books.

The Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need. Millions of children live in poverty and don’t know the comfort and security of a simple bedtime ritual. Many live in group homes or temporary shelters and have never even owned a pair of pajamas. 

Contact the Pajama Program or a local chapter to determine their needs and where to send your donations. Ask your guests to skip the hostess gift and bring new pj’s and books to your party instead. Want to do more? You can also volunteer to read to children at one of their reading centers or help sort donations.   


2. Collect jeans for homeless teenagers. This is a great project for middle school, high school and college students. In 2008, DoSomething.org® partnered with Aéropostale to create Teens for Jeans. Similar to food drives, teens collect new and gently used jeans to donate to homeless youth. Over a million young people under the age of 18 experience homelessness in the US every year.

“We called homeless shelters across the country and asked them what young people entering homeless shelters often requested and found that jeans were one of the most requested items,” said Nami Mody, Homelessness and Poverty Campaign Specialist for DoSomething.org.Teens for Jeans

Teens can bring their jeans to any Aéropostale store. The jeans will be distributed to local homeless shelters. Mody is not surprised by the success of the program and its impact on local communities. “Young people want to take action in their communities, and homelessness is one of the causes they care about the most. The campaign is so inspiring because it's all about young people helping young people.”

You can collect jeans now during the holidays and drop them off at local Aéropostale (and P.S. from Aéropostale) stores from January 12 to February 15, 2015. Each store is paired with at least one homeless shelter or charity in your community. Jeans of all sizes are needed and should be in good condition.

3. Chances are someone in your family or circle of friends will find a new cell phone under the tree this Christmas. You may even have a few old cell phones in your “junk” drawer. Now you can put them to good use. Instead of exchanging ornaments at your holiday party, tell your friends to bring their old cell phones!

Cell Phones for Survivors encourages people to donate their old phones to be refurbished, sold, and turned into funds to help survivors of domestic violence. Simply collect and mail in old cell phones. Sign up at Do Something.org and print out postage paid shipping labels.

HopeLine® from Verizon is another similar program. Since 1995, Verizon has refurbished phones and equipped them with minutes, texting capabilities, and a variety of services before giving them to survivors affiliated with participating domestic violence agencies. Phones can be from any provider. Drop off donated phones at local Verizon stores or ship with their postage paid shipping label.

4. Whether you’re in charge of the office party or planning the end of year club or team celebration, share your joy with others who need your support. Find all those holiday greeting cards you keep buying on sale and never send out or create your own. Ask your guests to send Season’s Greetings to military personnel away from home and family. Or, send cards to your local nursing home, children’s hospital, or shelter, etc.

Every year, Operation Gratitude sends over 100,000 care packages filled with treats and letters to deployed U.S. Service members, their family members, and wounded soldiers. See their website for specific details about what to write and where to send your cards.

A MillionThanks.org asks individuals and groups to write cards and letters of appreciation for the military. Review their guidelines, find a location near you, and send your cards and letters to our troops. Contact your location via phone or email to be sure they can accept your cards and letters.

5. If you’re having a cookie exchange, ask your guests to also bring an extra pair of gloves, socks, a hat or some basic toiletries. When dividing the cookies, assemble extra bags for your local homeless shelter. Fill reusable grocery bags or old backpacks with items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and hand sanitizer, etc. This is a great way to use all those little hotel shampoo and body wash bottles! You can also find hand warmers in the dollar section of many stores. Don’t forget to add the cookies!

6. This season brings a lot of celebrations filled with our favorite dishes, treats, and traditions. What are yours? If you’re getting together with family and friends to bake or cook your special recipes, have everyone bring duplicate non-perishable items for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day dinners and donate them to a local food bank. Or, check with your local church to sponsor a family in need. Collect items they might need to brighten their holiday. You can also stop by your post office to pick up Letters to Santa. Help bring joy to children around the U.S.

Whether you're celebrating with family, friends or co-workers, give thanks for what is truly important. Remember to share your joy with your community and those in need. How do you celebrate this season of giving? Tell us what you do as a family, with friends and with your community.

Topics: Thanksgiving, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives., Christmas gift ideas, holiday party ideas, volunteering, community engagement, outreach, community service, youth impact, engagement, high school, service, community, civic engagement, parents, opportunities, connecting communities, involvement, nonprofit, charity, Parties with a Purpose

Volunteering at Holiday Food Drives Can Help Many in Need

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 11:20 AM

 

The holidays are upon us. As we approach the days of festive get-togethers, parties, and dinners, we sometimes complain that we overindulge. However, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), shockingly there are approximately 49 million people in the United States, including nearly 16 million children, who live at risk of hunger everyday.

According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD), the faces of hunger are changing. Often those in need are employed, are veterans, children, and seniors. In Cook County alone, the numbers are startling. Nearly 800,000 people are unsure of when they will receive their next meal. One in six Chicagoans faces hunger every day. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 67 million pounds food, the equivalent of 154,000 meals every day. 

It is getting harder for families to make ends meet. Some are skipping meals or cutting back on the quality or quantity of food they purchase. In fact, the GCFD reports 47% of households say they have to choose between paying for food and utilities, while another 44% report choosing between paying for food and rent or mortgage.

This time of year, there’s a big push to increase food donations for the holidays. Students in elementary and high schools, as well as universities throughout the country are coming together to collect thousands and thousands of pounds of non-perishable items.

In Chicago, the NBA Bulls, along with sponsors Vienna Beef and Midway Moving and Storage, hosted a number of food drives, including a contest for Chicago Public Schools. Over 35,000 pounds of food was collected to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The winning school, Phillip Murray Elementary Language Academy, collected over 4,000 pounds of food.

Area food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens rely heavily on the GCFD. Their campaign, No One Should Go Hungry is a simple, yet powerful message, highlighting the fact they have just 1 Goal, 1 Mission - To Fight Hunger 1 Dollar, 1 Meal, 1 Person at a Time, until the day that no one goes hungry. The One City, One Food Drive goal is to collect one million pounds of food. 

Food depositories cannot accomplish their goals alone. They need active volunteers of all ages to help in their mission. At the GCFD, volunteers are always needed to load trucks, pick up and deliver produce, check orders, help out with special events, and help pick up and deliver donations from food shows. They can also volunteer at member pantries or soup kitchens.

Food_DriveWhile students are home for break or off for the holidays, a great community service activity is to volunteer at the food depository. School groups, service clubs, and individuals can help repack bulk food products into individual/family sizes. The food depository posts their volunteer schedule four months in advance so groups can plan ahead to sign up. Participants must be at least 14. If you want to get your children involved at an early age, younger kids can participate on special “kids days” with adult supervision.

Feeding America, a leading domestic hunger-relief charity, works to feed the country’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks. In addition, the organization encourages community engagement running a number of partner promotions, and by using social media in a variety of ways. One unique option is to be a virtual volunteer.  Students can "spread the word" and promote social good and awareness through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.

In keeping with the virtual theme, today’s tech savvy kids and young adults, can also host virtual food drives. Whether your son or daughter needs to complete a community service project or their club wants to highlight their community engagement, the Virtual Food Drive is simple to coordinate and through the use of social media, students create awareness about the issue of hunger, as well as raise funds to support Feeding America. Just set a fundraising goal, create a page by answering a few simple questions and ask others to donate using the online tools provided.

The virtual food drive is a great way for colleges to get their students involved. For the seventh year in a row, California State University and UC San Diego students participated in the "Colleges Rock Hunger" food drive to gather money and food donations for needy families. Both universities used virtual food drives, along with traditional methods of collecting food. Last year, students donated nearly 245,000 pounds of food to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. This year the food bank distributed 22.3 million pounds of food to San Diego County, the equivalent of 18.6 million meals.

The food drive was a great way for students to give back to the community and make a difference. Even college students can afford one can of food or a $1 donation. The California students creatively worked with different groups on campus to encourage everyone to participate. They also maximized their efforts with existing events, like homecoming, and gave students incentives for participating like “cut the line" for free food, giveaways, preferred seating, or immediate access to games and activities. In addition, student organizers reached out to the local business community for support.

If you prefer the traditional hands-on route of volunteering, Feeding America encourages volunteers to check out local community service opportunities. There are food banks in just about every city in America. The Feeding America website offers a nationwide food bank locator. You can search by zip code or state to find the nearest food bank. In addition to helping local food banks repackage donated food for use at food pantries, and transporting food to charitable agencies, you can also help tutor young children at their local Kids Café programs. 

Another great way for students to support Feeding America's efforts this holiday season is to give a donation in someone's name. It's a great gift for that hard to buy for relative, friend or teacher!  The Bank of America Give A Meal program runs through December 31. The online campaign has resulted in more than 100 million meals for families and individuals in need across the country with over 40 million meals coming in just through last year’s program. For every $1 donated through Give A Meal, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will give $2 more, up to $1.5 million - giving donors the opportunity to triple their impact! 

As we’ve witnessed recently, disaster can strike without rhyme or reason. Feeding America also needs volunteers across the country to support survivors of disaster-affected communities. Sort, box, and repackage donated food to be directed where it's needed most.  



Whether it’s a virtual food drive or a traditional one, students have the power to make a difference. This holiday season, get involved and support your local food bank. What do you do as a family to help with the fight against hunger? Check out our recent blog about how  service learning can help you run a successful food drive!

 

 photo: Dolly Duplantier

Topics: Thanksgiving, Food Banks, Food Pantries, Food Drives., volunteering, community engagement, higher ed, community service, youth impact, engagement, high school, service, community, civic engagement, opportunities, involvement, fundraising, social media

Get Outdoors: Active Volunteering Helps Everyone

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Over the last quarter of a millennium, humans have moved indoors.  Beginning in 1750 with the first wave of the Industrial Revolution, a gross migration began to occur when people from rural, outdoor, farming communities moved to cities.  Now, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. In the early stages of industrialization, people were moving to cities for factory work. Now, in the post-industrial economies of the developed world, people have moved up from the factories and are working in office spaces, living stationary lifestyles under fluorescent lights.  Students spend most of the school day inside.

With the invention of universal education that came with industrialization, children have also been brought inside. Education inflation has caused young people not only to spend school hours inside, but also to spend more time inside studying, with everyone sinking down in front of the TV or computer when the long, tiring day is over.  Today, we see less-developed countries experiencing the same lifestyle shift that brought us indoors.  

Now, I’m not romanticising life before the “Great Indoor Migration”, because I think it has ultimately improved our lives.  Without this shift I would probably be spending my day harvesting crops, cleaning the house, and thinking about getting married in five years. Instead, I’m going to school and hoping in five years to start a life and career for myself.  The fact of the matter is that we are now living indoors more, and it’s time to spend a little time being active outside.

The fun, animated video “What if You Stopped Going Outside?” describes health risks and problems that could arise from not spending enough time outside - including osteoporosis, depression, and even cancers. 

Furthermore, the Harvard Health Letter gives some of the benefits of spending time outside. These benefits include getting more vitamin D, more exercise, a happier life, better concentration, and a better healing time in the event of injury (you can read more about how sunshine and fresh air help these processes). Being outside feels good and is good for you. Being outside and being active go hand in hand with being healthier and happier, but the main problem facing most people is finding time to be more active.  Volunteering outdoors is a great way to merge outdoor activities with community engagement. You will be impacting the community by volunteering and helping yourself by being active.

A nature trail is a great place to volunteer.

While out in nature, you are inevitably active.  Hiking, climbing, and running are all ways we interact with nature while being active.  It is also important to protect the environment around us so it can sustain us and an active lifestyle. Volunteering with organizations concerned with the environment is a great way to get active and volunteer. Some outdoor environmental projects could entail planting a community or urban garden or helping clean up a river, beach, highway, or nearby park. To find these types of opportunities, look up local parks and environmental organizations. Remember not only to keep it outdoorsy and active, but to keep it local too. Part of being more active is also getting out of those cars and using your legs as transportation.  Cars pollute the environment, so if you are trying to improve the environment and enjoy your time outdoors, do your best not to pollute it even more.  Plus, you’ll have a direct impact on your own local community.  

Sports are another way people enjoy their time outdoors.  Walks and marathons are common fundraising events, and nonprofits are always in need of volunteers to register runners, hand out water, stand along the route and encourage the racers.  For example, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in the States are two runs held to support breast cancer research and breast cancer survivors.  Right now, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the events are held year round. Local organizations may also hold fundraising races for local causes. In Greensboro, NC, an event call the Chicken Walk will take place next month to raise money to help the Interactive Resource Center, a local resource that helps people experiencing homelessness, keep its doors open.  A fantastic woman named Amy Murphy began the project by taking chicken that restaurants were throwing away, and feeding it to the homeless, who she refers to as her “friends downtown.”  If you are in the area, find out more about this year’s inaugural Chicken Walk. Volunteering with athletics is a great way to help with an important cause, but volunteering actively can also mean supporting the cause of physical activity and exercise itself.  

Volunteer coaching is a great way to stay active and make a difference in your local community.

Volunteer coaching or hosting a field day are both great ways to get outdoors.  Not only will you be active, get outside, and have fun, but you’ll also bring the importance of being active to children growing up in the “Great Indoor Migration”. You’ll become a positive mentor and leader to the kids you work with. You can inspire them to lead healthier lives, develop sportsmanship, and enjoy just being a kid.  To find these kinds of opportunities, team up with local schools, parks, and recreation centres to get involved or to pioneer your own program geared toward fitness.  


What are some ways you are tracking your Noble Impact™ by getting active outdoors? 


Classroom image via FotoPedia

Topics: service learning, volunteering, community, America, civic engagement, community engagement, opportunities, youth impact, millennials, social, involvement, outdoors, active

6 Service Ideas for Halloween

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 09:30 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

The season’s spookiest holiday is just around the corner, but let’s not forget that the scariest things in life don’t come out on Halloween night.  Can you imagine what it would be like to not have have a house, to not have food, to not have clean water, to not have a school to go to, or not to have a family?  Facing life’s toughest challenges and uncertainties is scary.  This Halloween, apart from the ghosts and the jack-o'-lanterns, try to imagine what really scares you and find ways to impact your community and help people in dire situations. Why not celebrate this year with these service ideas

Pumpkins carved for Halloween.

  1. Costume Event Fundraiser:  Host a Halloween party and ask your friends to each bring a small donation for a local nonprofit.  If your school doesn’t allow costumes, see if this year the rules can be broken for a good cause.  Talk to your principal about letting students come in their spooky attire provided they donate to your fundraiser.  If every student in your school donated a dollar, or even a quarter, how much could you raise while still having fun? You could even expand the event by having a whole week of fundraising with a Halloween-related theme for each day.  

  2. Neighborhood Trick-or-Treat Food Drive:  Trick-or-treating is a precious memory.  For me, I always remember my cousins and I precariously huddled together, walking up to the houses with the scaries decorations (and the best candy) only to run back down the driveway screaming at whatever creature had popped out as us. However, it was all worth it when we returned home with sacks of candy.  But with all those bags of candy, I never finished them all.  Instead of collecting candy for yourself, help someone in need by asking your neighbors to give you canned and dried food when you come knocking on their doors.  Try to get as many peers to participate in your efforts to greater the collective impact of just one night of trick-or-treating.  For tips on how to start a program like this in your neighborhood, read about Free the Children’s We Scare Hunger Program. 

  3. Donate a Costume: Bring the fun and scares of Halloween to someone in need by donating old or outgrown costumes that you don’t need anymore.

  4. Pumpkin Crafts: A fun way to celebrate Halloween is by decorating pumpkins.  Share this experience with others by volunteering to help children carve their own Jack-o-Lantern. You could read stories to the children about Halloween and make Halloween decorations out of construction paper if the pumpkins are too messy.  You could also volunteer at a senior citizen home and decorate pumpkins with them.  These crafts could be carving up the pumpkin to create a traditional jack-o'-lantern, or just decorating pumpkins on the outside with paint, glitter, ribbons, etc. and putting them in the seniors’ rooms.  Paint half your pumpkins black and create a large checkers board to play pumpkin checkers.  The smaller pumpkins are ideal for these types of projects because they are easier to work with,  less expensive, and everyone can have one.  

  5. “Trick or Treating for UNICEF”: Beginning in 1950, children have been collecting spare change on Halloween night to collect money to help UNICEF provide basic needs for children worldwide. The first campaign, started by a group of schoolchildren in Philadelphia, raised $17, but in the 60+ years of the program, children trick-or-treating in the United States have raised almost $160 million.  The program has not only been successful to help children abroad, but it educates children on global issues; participating in the program “has given US children, along with their parents and teachers, the opportunity to learn about their peers worldwide who are truly in need” of necessities such as “ medicine, better nutrition, safe water, education, [and] emergency relief.”  This program is about children helping other children in the world.  To find out how to volunteer this Halloween through this program, click here.  

    Halloween Candy

  6. Halloween Safety:  Halloween is fun, but it’s also important for children, especially younger ones, to be aware of how to be safe while walking in the streets at night.  Educate youngsters by creating a fun presentation about Halloween safety.  Perhaps design a skit about what to do and what not to do.  Be sure to emphasize points like staying in a group, crossing the streets carefully, denying invitations into people’s houses, and staying on streets you are familiar with.  Plan a safe Halloween event by hosting Halloween events where children can have fun, be scared, and stay safe.  Here’s an example of a project done by one high school: “With the goal of providing a safe environment for children to go trick-or-treating, Sycamore (Ill.) High School Student Council hosts a unique activity on Halloween. They contact a local retirement center and arrange to have trick-or-treaters visit on Halloween. Student council members provide candy to participating residents and decorate their doors to indicate which rooms children may visit. The trick-or-treaters are escorted around the building by council members.”  Similar project ideas can be found here.  

What volunteer service projects will you participate in this Halloween?


Image Attribution:

Pumpkins
Candy Corn

Topics: service learning, service, volunteering, community engagement, opportunities, youth impact, millennials, involvement, halloween, trick-or-treat

Scholarships for Student Volunteers

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Oct 08, 2013 @ 02:00 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo.

Volunteerism is not only great for the community, but it can also benefit young volunteers by creating opportunities for scholarships. Several programs exist to reward students for their service to the community and help them finance their higher education.  Here are a few examples of volunteer scholarships:
  • The Prudential Spirit of Community Award “is the United States' largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.”  This award is available to students in grades 5-12 who have engaged in community service and leadership over the last year.  The deadline for applications this year is November 5th, and the winners will be announced on February 11th, 2014.  Winners are selected on the local, state, and national level.  A special awards ceremony for state winners is held in Washington, DC.  A $5,000 award is given to winners who progress to the national level.  The Spirit of Community program encourages service on an international platform, awarding students in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, and China.

  • The Best Buy Scholarship Program awards 1,100 scholarships each year to high schools students who show strength in both academics and volunteerism.  The scholarship money is given for higher education.  In addition to academic records and extracurricular activities, students are asked to provide a record of their service-learning hours when applying.

    Students receive a scholarship from NobleHour for their volunteer service.
  • The Gloria Baron Prize for Young Heros annually recognizes 25 outstanding young leaders. The founder of the Barron Prize, author T. A. Barron, named it after his late mother Gloria. Gloria Barron was a teacher, a mother, and an active member of her community.  She dedicated her life to young people, encouraging her students to write their stories down and urging them to do something to better the world.  She believed in the power of the individual, particularly a young individual's ability to better the greater community. Young people across America can be nominated for the award after completing a service project that makes "a significant positive difference to people and our planet."  Nominations are accepted until April 30, and winners are announced late September.  Of the 25 selected, the top ten receive $5,000 to be applied to their higher education or to their service project, a recognition plaque, a signed copy of "The Hero's Trail" by T.A. Barron, and other awards. The Barron Prize seeks to recognize the inspiring work of young people.
  • The retail store Kohl’s offers the Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program for students aged 6-18 who have not yet graduated from high school.  The program has recognized 17,500 students and granted over three million dollars in scholarships.  Students are nominated and selected based on the impact their volunteer hours had on the community.  Winners from each store receive a $50 Kohl's Gift Certificate.  The most meaningful projects are selected from each region and awarded $1000, and national winners receive a $10,000 scholarship plus a donation of $1000 to a nonprofit valued by the student.  The award monies for region and national winners are used toward the student's higher education.  Nominations for the 2014 Kohls Cares Scholarship Program will be open from January 31-March 14, 2014.

    These are just some examples of scholarships for volunteers provided by private institutions, but several publicly funded programs also exist to recognize volunteerism:

    Several Government scholarships exist to award students for their service and help them pay for higher education.  AmeriCorps, a branch of the Corporation for National and Community Service*, encourages young people to dedicate a year to service working with a nonprofit, school, public agency, or community.  Students earn valuable skills, become civically minded, and gain experience valued in the workforce—where they are heading after their year of service.  For their volunteer work, students receive a small stipend to cover living expenses, since in dedicating all their time to volunteering, they have no other source of income.  They also receive benefits such as healthcare and childcare during their time as a volunteer.  Upon finishing a term of volunteerism, students are eligible to apply for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award*, which awards volunteer scholarship money to be put towards paying for higher education or repaying student loans.  The scholarship award is valued at the maximum Pell Grant during the year of service.  Members of AmeriCorps can receive up to two Education Awards if they volunteer for more than one term.  This program not only encourages young people to serve and become active and dedicated to a cause, it also helps them pay for their higher education.

  • The President’s Volunteer Service Award*, previously discussed on NobleHour, also recognizes volunteers who, alongside their daily lives, track hundreds of hours helping in the community.  Applicants are asked to produce some type of log as proof of their volunteer hours.  Tracking volunteer hours on using NobleHour’s hour-tracking software is a way to accomplish this.

Volunteer scholarships are a great opportunity to help reward and recognize students for their work and help them pay off their tuition.  What are some other ways students can use their talents to overcome the challenges of today’s rising tuition fees?

*For the time being, volunteers are unable to apply for these programs and awards due to the federal government shutdown. More information about the effects of the government shut down can be read in the Corporation for National and Community Service’s contingency plan.

Topics: service learning, service, education, millenials, volunteering, graduates, volunteering nonprofit, community, civic engagement, community engagement, CNCS, outreach, opportunities, youth impact, volunteer management, scholarships

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