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The Power of $100

Frosted glass, cold feet, and pulsing hands graced across the ice rink in an effort to sponsor a family on and provide gifts for those who are underprivileged. VolunTEEN Nation Ambassador Sharlena Luyen coordinated this family event to create a type of cheer worth spreading. She wanted to show everyone what this holiday season was all about -- giving happiness. With this in mind, Sharlena had over 100 supporters come out to the rink and skate, along with special guest Miss Teen Regional US Shayauna Mellin to support the cause. At the end of the night, Sharlena raised enough money to sponsor nearly three families on CommuniGift, purchasing essentials from shoes and educational toys to coats and pants.

After the event, she realized the power of a single hundred dollar bill. With this, she challenges everyone to take part in an upcoming project, "Feed 100 people for 100 dollars."

The Servie Challenge

The popularity of the selfie is phenominal.  Selfies are the most well recognized trend among social media users, but they paint an incomplete picture of their subjects.

The Servie Challenge launched by VolunTEEN Nation Ambassador Kate Parchman is designed to allow social media users to show a more complete picture of themselves.  Servies are images of individuals/groups engaging in acts of service to others and posted on social media sites with the #serviechallenge.

Servies do the following:

1. Serives show a more complete picture of an individual, going beyond physical appearance to highlight interests, talents, character and dedication.

2. Servies share ideas for service opportunities. Many willing individuals wish to serve but do not know what groups or organizations are in need of assistance.  Also, first time volunteers may wish to share the experience with a friend, and servies can help volunteers to connect and coordinate efforts, leading to an increase in volunteer support for the organization and a more fulfilling experience for the volunteers.

3. Servies raise awareness, highlighting issues, needs and solutions to problems in our local communities and around the world.

4. Servies inspire others and impact communities:  Servies show needs being met, lives being improved and communities changing for the better.

5. The Servie Challenge is a great way to show, share and increase your impact on the world.   What you need to do for the Servie Challenge is post servies  to your profiles and then challenge other social media users to do the same.  Servies can change the world, but you have to take the first step. 

Post your servies with #serviechallenge.

Teens Taking Action

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead. This thought really struck home for two sophomores who had a passion for volunteering in their community. In the spring of 2013, Morgan and Rachael started a service club called Teens Taking Action at their high school in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The club is focused on counteracting poverty in the Twin Cities through volunteer work at local organizations. 

They wanted to give students an opportunity to volunteer more regularly in order to spread volunteerism in their community. Members of the service club choose to volunteer at organizations and causes they are passionate about. The service club as four main issues they take action against: hunger, homelessness, lack of necessities and aiding in healthy community relations, in order to counteract poverty. 

The club meets every month during the school year and strives to complete at least two volunteering projects each month. What began as a small group of 15 friends has grown to more than 50 members. The club even completes volunteer projects during the summer. Some examples of organizations they have volunteered with include Second Harvest Heartland, HandsOn Twin Cities, The Sandwich Project, ICA Food Shelf, Salvation Army, and Caring for Cambodia, Cheerful Givers, The Humane Society, Operation Gratitude and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. 

However, the club’s biggest accomplishment was receiving a grant from the organization Katie’s Krops to start their very own vegetable garden, where all the vegetables harvested would be donated to their local ICA food shelf. Over 170 applicants applied for Katie’s Krops 2014 Grant Cycle and Teens Taking Action was one of the 31 grantees to receive funding. Teens Taking Action also received donations of seeds and plants from a local greenhouse and their city also donated a 20 X 20 plot for them to grow on. They began planting in mid May and the garden has been flourishing since. Each week this summer the garden switches hands from various members. Two to three members will take care of the garden for a week. Responsibilities for managing the garden include weeding, watering, and if there is produce, delivering it to ICA Food Shelf. 

Morgan and Rachael, the founders of Teens Taking Action, are so thankful for the wonderful support from their members, as well as the support from their club advisor, community, and Katie’s Krops. 

Interested in learning more about Teens Taking Action’s service projects follow them on Twitter @TTA_MHS.

Teens Teach Tech

Without an ocean, land-locked in the Midwest, teen volunteers in St. Louis help seniors dive in and learn how to surf the internet, use smartphones, digital cameras, grasp social media, and access Skype. The idea to offer free basic tech training to senior citizens was ignited when my own grandparents struggled with their mobile phones and learning how navigate the Internet. I realized that youth could fulfill a critical and valuable role helping senior citizens adapt to technology. Teen volunteers could provide both individualized and group workshops on the basics of using mobile phones, digital cameras, social media and Skype.


Helping Kids Do Good

Passionate about volunteering, I can affirm that service has offered me so much - namely valuable collaborative skills, the courage to lead fundraising initiatives, and a deep-rooted interest in helping others realize their rights and potential. Above all, my service experiences have imbued me with a lifelong belief; the belief that I can make a difference in the world here and today. I need not wait, in the words of William Butler Yeats, to strike when the iron is hot, but instead make it hot by striking. 

But what about the people who are unable to strike the iron due to a lack of resources and funding? Wouldn’t the sonorous cadence that emanates from struck iron then be muted? Wouldn’t the reservoir of great promise that is youth volunteerism regrettably dry up? Mac Winslow, Co-Founder and President of Start A Snowball, understands this quandary and resourcefully tries to eliminate it. With the mission of inspiring and providing funding for youth to engage in their own service projects, Start A Snowball hopes to help youth amplify their voices on their service activities, and let exemplary project ideas come to fruition through grants. The hope is that youth will acquire an understanding of the power of service, which will engender a dynamic culture of volunteer mobility that extends to their adult lives.

Mac Winslow and the rest of the Start A Snowball community believe that “in order to improve the world and tackle the problems facing our society, we need to build a culture of service and a generation of givers. To do this, we have to start with children”. Mac’s oldest son provided the momentum for Start A Snowball’s founding by spearheading “a week-long food drive” that reached a pinnacle when he collected approximately 1400 pounds of food and over $300 so that students in his school and their families could be properly fed over Spring Break. “We were inspired by the impact one child with a little support could have on a problem that concerned him. We believe that all children have this ability inside of them, and we want to help them realize it,” Mac asserts, with a veracity that could not radiate more brightly. 

Indeed, an investment in youth volunteerism produces manifold returns. The independence to effect change around an issue that speaks volumes to them, the exposure to meaningful leadership experiences and the development of a sense of community are only three of these dividends. Youth certainly have limitless potential, and should they be armed with the adequate resources, they can make the difference of tomorrow, today. Since Start A Snowball’s launch in February this year, it has supplied grants for projects including fundraising projects to raise classroom and dental supplies for children in Haiti, anti-bullying campaigns, book drives, and teen volunteer programs working with the elderly. In Mac’s words, “We want to encourage and fund projects that are going to make a difference [...] and of course they need to be led by kids”. 

In addition to applying for service grants, youth can get involved with Start A Snowball by utilizing “the resources on [Start A Snowball’s] website to identify ideas and opportunities for community service”. They can also be part of the movement to further volunteer dynamism among youth by spreading the word about Start A Snowball and its grants. “We live in a social media driven society, and we need youth and adults alike to spread the word about what we are doing, and build a groundswell of support and grant applicants,” Mac advocates. Start A Snowball also wants to hear about other stories of youth doing good in their communities. “We ask people to come to our site to share their inspiring stories; we can use them to inspire others.”

Marian Wright Edelman once said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” This infectious spirit of volunteerism and giving is deeply embedded in Start A Snowball’s DNA. Its future is optimistic, and Mac hopes that the organization will be able to “provide 160 grants in 2014 and 800 by the year 2018.” Ultimately, Start A Snowball is on pace to fostering a generation of devoted givers, and is relentless in its mission to secure for the world a brighter tomorrow through the powerful vehicle of youth volunteerism. If you are interested in getting involved with Start A Snowball, please contact Mac at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .