Teens who decided to help the world
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At the beginning of their senior year of high school, Annalise Blum and Katharine Kendrick began talking about the terrible things going on in the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa. Newspapers told of innocent men, women, and children being beaten or killed simply because they were black. Katharine thought it sounded a lot like what had happened in Rwanda in 1994. Annalise had recently visited Guatemala and talked to people who had suffered terribly during that country's long civil war (1954-95). The Sudanese refugees were gathered into camps with little food. How to help?Skip to next paragraph
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Annalise and Katharine decided to sell ribbons to raise money and let people know about events in Darfur. A small loop of green ribbon on a safety pin would mean hope for Sudan.
But where to send the money? "It was sort of overwhelming at first," Katharine says. But with the help of Youth Philanthropy Worldwide, which matches young fundraisers with aid groups, Annalise and Katharine chose Relief International. "With our money, they are buying chickens to give to refugees," says Annalise. "People can eat the eggs, but they can also sell eggs or raise more chickens and sell them." Some of the money raised will also buy school supplies for refugee children.
The two began by selling ribbons to their high school classmates in Oakland, Calif. "We got our friends to wear them," Katharine says. "Then people came to us and said, 'Oh, I need my ribbon.' "
The girls sold ribbons at an on-campus showing of a film about the crisis in Sudan. Other students sold them at sporting events and their parents' workplaces. Friends at other schools got involved. Teens at eight other San Francisco Bay Area high schools are now raising money to help Sudanese refugees.
"Our project has ballooned outward," says Katharine. "It was really exciting to see how much momentum we caused. And it feels really good to know we are doing something concrete." They have raised more than $2,000 so far.
The girls are considering making "chicken pins" ($5 buys a chicken) in addition to the green ribbons. They also hope to organize a fundraising concert and start a letter-writing campaign to urge the United States government to take action.
"Sometimes, it seems too hard to get involved," says Annalise. "But once you get people going ... it takes off."
Every child loves to play in a forest, and Matthew Rich of Concord, N.C., was happy to grow up next to one. But when he was 16, the forest was leveled to make room for more houses. "It really bothered me," says Matthew. It was too late to save Matthew's neighborhood woodland, so the high school junior decided to plant a new forest elsewhere. He started a group called the Woodland and Wildlife Restoration Committee with $60 of his own money and $101 earned from a garage sale. He bought eight saplings and planted them at a care center for the elderly.
Eight trees, however, is not a forest. Matthew's goal was to plant 1,000 trees. A garden writer at a local newspaper helped get the word out. Matthew received a grant from the state forestry department. To his surprise, several big companies offered to help. International Paper donated trees, and Lowe's, a home-improvement store, donated equipment. "I learned that businesses can be very caring about the environment and the community," says Matthew.
Matthew mobilized more than 200 students from two high schools and an elementary school to help with planting. So far his group has planted more than 1,300 trees on public and private land - a real forest. Like Shawn Henry, Matthew won a Barron Prize.
Matthew, 18, is now a college freshman. He hopes to go to law school. But creating new forests is still a big part of his life. "After all the support I've gotten," he says, "I want to keep planting as long as I can."
You can read about Erin Rosen-Watson's projects on her website at: www.massyouthinaction.org.
Youth Philanthropy Worldwide works with young people to help them become involved in the global community: www.ypworldwide.org.
You can learn more about Matthew Rich's tree planting projects on his website at: www.onetreeatatime.org.