YOUNG VOICES: Teens can give back through time, talent

2014-04-28T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: Teens can give back through time, talentBy Sofia Grimsgard nwitimes.com
April 28, 2014 12:00 am  • 

As a high school student hoping to capture a decent part-time job this summer, I realize I will more than likely be making minimum wage. As long as I can take some of the burden off of my parents when it comes to things like gas money, my Barnes & Noble book buying addiction, or saving for college, minimum wage is fine with me.

Aside from getting that summer job I intend to keep throughout the school year, I’d like to also give back in some way in my community.

I realize my minimum wage job may restrict me to give back in my community monetarily, and I am reminded of something I learned at an Orthodox summer youth camp years ago in Grayslake, Ill. It was called stewardship. We learned stewardship and giving back doesn't only mean giving with money or what some call “treasure.” It also includes giving of your time and talent.

For instance, I will look into providing a few hours of reading or math tutoring to a young person, answering phones at a nonprofit agency, or spending time playing my musical instrument at a senior living facility.

Some adults find themselves in a difficult financial situation such as job loss or unexpected medical bills, and are unable to make their ongoing monetary donations to their church, school or local nonprofit, leaving them feeling disheartened. But they can still give back by giving of their time or talent, whether they are using their accounting talent to help residents of a women’s shelter with taxes, or they are using their artistic talent to teach a craft workshop at a senior center.

According to smartgivers.org, there are many ways for teens to give of their time, talent and treasures in order to benefit others.

They encourage teens to find an issue they care about. If you are passionate about the environment, then look into helping schools and organizations with your recycling programs. If you like animals, try volunteering at the animal shelter.

Smartgivers also urges young people to use talents and skills in a way that will give back. Play an instrument? Contact a retirement home or hospital to see if you can play for the residents and patients. Good at tossing the ball or excel at math and reading? Then consider helping to coach younger students or tutor in after-school programs or leagues.

And if you don’t have money to contribute, think about other treasures, such as cleaning out a closet and giving up gently used clothes and books to shelters, day care centers or disaster relief drives.

An idea they give teens on monetary contributions is taking a stipend from their allowance or paycheck, asking the parents to match it and then donate it to their cause or organization of choice.

My closing message to readers, and in particular teens, is just because you don’t always have treasure (money) to contribute, don’t overlook the time and talent you can share to help or brighten someone’s day!

Sofia Grimsgard, of Valparaiso, is a junior at Valparaiso High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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