I’m a young woman who loves my yellow VW Bug, is excited about being in college and has a perpetually messy room. Basically I’m a typical teenager with one difference. I’ve found that it’s important to share what I have with people in need.
Since I was 8, I’ve had seven books published with major publishers and traveled around the world, encouraging people to volunteer. My latest book gives step-by-step directions on how kids can participate in 77 volunteer projects. It’s so important that kids and adults look beyond themselves and try to help other people, animals or the environment.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Kenya, Uganda, Peru and Mexico, helping people who need basic education, healthcare and school supplies. Yes, even teenagers can raise money to send a child to school or collect shoes for people in developing countries.
Speaking of shoes… I’m a spokesperson for Soles4Souls, a non-profit agency that collects and distributes shoes to people in need around the world. Last year I organized an all-city shoe drive. In one day, I collected over 5,000 pairs of shoes!
We went to Guatemala and gave kids in rural villages new shoes. Many of the kids had no shoes at all to protect their feet from cuts and infections. I know not everyone can personally deliver shoes, but everyone can do something as simple as having a shoe drive and shipping the shoes to one of Soles4Souls’s warehouses.
Even with the tight economy, people can still reach out and help other people, animals or the environment. It costs nothing to collect newspapers for the puppy pens at your local Humane Society. Kids can even collect old cell phones which are refurbished and given to women who are living in abusive situations. The women then have a free cell phone to call 911.
Yes, it’s fun to get recognition for writing books and be picked up in limos for a TV show interview. But it’s even more fun (and rewarding!) to collect books to give to an inner school or decorate a bulletin board at a senior center. Reaching out to help others is what makes life meaningful.