Adults love to go on and on about how we're so charitable, and kids today are so gosh darn greedy. But what do we adults really do? OK, we give money, but I'm going to break it to you: pulling out a checkbook has nothing on volunteering to live on the streets for four whole nights to raise awareness of the plight of homeless veterans.
And yet, a plan to do just this comes out of the home of today's "greedy," "spoiled," and "disaffected" youth: a college campus. Kids who attend the University of South Dakota are voluntarily spending night after night in a cardboard box with no showers, eating only what's donated, this week.
Honestly, I'm not surprised. Every year I shave my head to fight childhood cancer for the St. Baldrick's Foundation (usually in March, but I've put it off until September this year in honor of childhood cancer month), and every year the number of teenagers in the room far outnumber the adults ... at least in terms of giving up their hair. Most of my funds come in from adults because we have the discretionary income, but it's the kids making the real sacrifices.
A good lesson for parents who are despairing about the greedy kid asking for the new iPad, isn't it? If you asked your kid if they'd go sleep on the streets for a cause or push a broom around the local community center, have you raised them well enough to actually do it? Are they really so selfish they won't get their hands dirty for some good? They might surprise you!
Meanwhile, we adults are, by and large, set in our ways. If push came to shove, I'll be honest, I don't think I'd be as ready as these kids are to go live on the streets -- even though I believe in their cause. Our men and women who serve deserve better than a life on the streets. But I'm a mother. I like my blankets and my pillows. I love my shower and my deodorant.
Selfish? Yes. In that sense I am. And that's what I love about kids. Given the chance, 9 times out of 10, kids are very giving on themselves and their bodies. They haven't gotten too comfortable or set in their ways. They'll do stuff like give up showers and good food for four days for the men and women who have given so much to this country.
By the way, for their efforts, the students in South Dakota hope to earn pledges for hours spent living like the 67,000 or more veterans on the streets in America -- they'll use the funds to help support a local shelter for vets. To help them out, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send a donation to USD Veterans Club, C/O SAC Office/MUC, 414 E. Clark St., Vermillion, SD 57069. Maybe you'll send a pledge -- because that's the adult way. Or maybe a cheer for what youth can do?
What incredible things have you seen teenagers do in your community?
Image via Aoife city womanchile/Flickr