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High School Senior Gabreal Hughes Changes Culture at Norco High School

Every moment presents itself with the opportunity to make a difference, should we have the courage to boldly venture into the lifestyle of service. For high school senior and varsity football player Gabriel Hughes, the choice was clear when he saw freshman Nathan Clark impacted with visual impairment.

Gabreal noticed Nathan struggling with trying to get to his classes, as he would require a walking stick to guide his movements. Since August, the boys have formed a powerful duo. As Gabe would help him walk to his classes, they formed a friendship unlike any other. In November, Gabe worked personally with his football coaches and language arts teacher to arrange Nathan being able to run through the football banner before a game, as well as gave him a football with the signatures from the varsity team.

His kindness didn’t go unnoticed. Gabe’s willingness spread to the rest of the football team, as Nathan is now surrounded with friends willing to support him. Even more, students at Norco High School individually are taking time out of their day to meet and befriend Nathan.

Opportunities are all around us to make a difference, and all it takes is a smile and willingness to help. What will you do to help make the world around you a better place?

The Power of $100

Frosted glass, cold feet, and pulsing hands graced across the ice rink in an effort to sponsor a family on CommuniGift.com 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.

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