When I started to think about this topic, I was thinking about what makes us see the best in people every day. After some thinking, what came to mind might not be what you had expected? I thought about people that should or do inspire us, then I shifted my focus. What about the youth? What about the young people who are inspiring and producing change in this world each day? I could not think of better examples of seeing the best in people each day, so I thought I would share 10 of their stories with you:
1) Elisabeth Iniguez is a senior at Chino Valley Christian Academy and she is raising funds to purchase Christmas presents for local foster children. She is trying to make sure that every kid gets a nice gift for Christmas. The foster kids are between 8 months old and 19 years old and they live locally in the Southern California area.
Elisabeth began a Go Fund Me campaign to raise the funds, as well as asking friends and family to help. She will be shopping for the gifts, wrapping them, and helping to give them out at their Christmas party on December 12th, which she also helped plan.
If she raises more money, past her goal, she will buy car seats for the foster family agency's foster families to be able to use. Elisabeth said, "We have so much and being able to give some of that away to bless someone else is just a perfect way to show the Christmas spirit." - Kidsareheroes.org
2) Tate Parker is a Kindergartener who is giving away the contents of his piggy bank for sleeping bags for homeless people.
Tate is hoping to collect 51 (or more) new/used sleeping bags in Victoria. He is paying the donors $1 each from his savings. (He only has $51 in his piggy bank so that's why his goal is 51 sleeping bags.) If the donor doesn't want $1 he will use it to buy another one.
His plan is to distribute the sleeping bags at noon at Christmas Eve so that people have a warm bed for Christmas morning. He feels badly that Santa won't be coming because they are grown-ups. He is in kindergarten and wants to teach his younger brother, 3, how to share. -Kidsareheroes.org
3) Micah Slentz
"Lego Africa" is the brainchild of a then six-year-old boy named Micah Slentz. Throughout North America, there are billions of LEGO's taking up space in attics, closets, and basements. Kids outgrow them every day. LEGOs can't be recycled and many charities won't accept them as donations.
Micah's project takes the LEGO that are just occupying space in American homes to a place where they are a prized luxury item: Africa. In the countries he works with, such as Uganda and Botswana, these LEGO can help many generations of kids. They never go bad, they are universally interchangeable, and they develop children's minds.
Since the organization began, Micah and his father have successfully collected hundreds of pounds of LEGO in the US and deployed them to Uganda and Botswana with the help of volunteers from Child Africa and the Peace Corps. Micah is now 9 years old and it is time to take Lego Africa to the next level. Micah and his father will travel to the poorest area of Uganda to meet with local leaders and expand their current program to reach many more children in the years to come. -Kidsareheroes.org
4) Connecting Through Music
Age 10, Stockholm, NJ
Lots of children like to put on shows. Few are as enterprising as Abigail. She performed her first musical revue three years ago at an assisted-living center, in honor of her great-grandmother's 100th birthday. "That's when I discovered many of the elderly didn't have visitors," she says. Abigail figured she could remedy that by inviting friends to perform with her at assisted-living residences, nursing homes, and children's hospitals throughout the state. Today, CareGirlz, Abigail's ensemble of 13 girls ages 6 to 13, has a repertoire of more than 90 Broadway and pop songs, and they've performed in 20 different locales so far. "I like to brighten up people's days and help them have a fun time," says Abigail. "If I do my best, they'll have a smile on their faces by the end." - Parenting.com
5) Hugs for Haiti
Age 13, Grand Rapids, MI
Two days after the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Blare saw a little boy crying in a pile of rubble on a newscast. The story brought him to tears. The next day, still thinking about what he'd seen, Blare remembered the teddy bear that always comforted him. "Then I thought, 'We could start a drive for Haiti,'" says Blare. At school, his teachers let him announce his plan over the PA system and ask other kids to donate bears. Soon a local TV and radio station got wind, and, via Facebook, other schools joined in. The result? Blare's Bears for Haiti gave 25,000 teddy bears to the island nation and about 22,000 more to nonprofits. This year Blare's group will collect toys and school supplies, too. Blare's advice to other kids is simple. "It doesn't really matter how small or old you are," he says. "If you're young and think you can't make a big difference in the world, well, you actually can." - Parenting.com
6) JAYLEN ARNOLD
When Jaylen Arnold was teased at school because he had motor and vocal tics associated with Tourette's syndrome, he didn't cower or complain. Instead, the then 8-year-old started a campaign called Jaylen's Challenge to stop school bullying. He accepts donations and sells anti-bullying wristbands that fund educational programs focused on helping teachers tackle the problem and teaching students about tolerance. Celebrity fans that sport Jaylen's bracelets include Leonardo DiCaprio, Anthony Anderson and Sam Waterston. -mom.me
7) PETER LARSON
For 12 straight years, 17-year-old Peter Larson has spent the nights between November 12th and December 31st sleeping in a cardboard box, hoping to raise awareness and in turn, money, for the homeless population in his hometown of Plymouth, Minnesota. Peter has raised $400,000 toward his cause thus far and hopes to collect another $100,000 this go-around to ensure that 50 families can be housed for an entire year. The example he has set has inspired similar "sleep outs" across the country. - mom.me
8) Dylan Mahalingam
At the ripe age of 9, Dylan Mahalingam co-founded Lil' MDGs, a nonprofit international development and youth empowerment organization and an initiative of Jayme's Fund. Lil' MDGs mission is to leverage the power of the digital media to engage children in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). His organization has mobilized more than 3 million children around the globe to work on a variety of issues, with more than 24,000 regular volunteers hailing from 41 countries. Dylan is a youth speaker for the United Nations as well as a chief strategist and project ambassador for Under the Acacia. The recipient of numerous international and national honors, Dylan is now 15 years old and a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire. -mnn.com
When I think of how bright, selfless, and determined these young people are, it truly makes me want to see the best in people every day. It makes me want to be someone that people see the best in every day. If you can't be inspired by these young philanthropists, who can you be. They do and give out of the goodness of their hearts, not for a paycheck, not for accolades, just because it is the right thing to do. Because they want to make a difference in this world and leave their stamp on it, seems like the best in people to me. If these inspiring young people can leave such a mark, and make such a difference, what is holding us back?