Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Miss Merry MAC

photo: beautyzine.com
How can a blog called Kids Helping Kids be complete without an annual plug for the MAC Kids Helping Kids holiday card line? Made with artwork by HIV-affected kids to support their peers, these are always a wonderful charity Christmas card option. Only problem? They disappear fast! So dash over to your MAC counter if you're interested.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Meowy Christmas

Just in time for holiday card mailings -- this Christmas cat stamp from our family store's winter holiday collection.

The brother & sister kittens we adopted over the summer -- bringing the grand total to 3, including an ever-sleepy senior cat  -- inspired our 15-year-old artist in residence.

As always, half the design proceeds go to Save the Children.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rise and Shine

photo: The Delicious Life via photopin cc
On November 15, Stamford, Conn., kids will roll up sleeves for their annual Thanksgiving Bread Drive to benefit peers in need. Using kitchen facilities donated annually by an area school or store, kids come together to bake loaves of yummy nut-free pumpkin bread, then sell them for $10 each as holiday treats. Their 2011 sale raised more than $2,000 to redo a youth-designed playground at a local shelter. Wonder where the dough (sorry, couldn't resist) will go this year?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Candy is Dandy?

photo: jamalfanaian via photopin cc
Not necessarily, for the estimated 2.2 million school-age food allergy sufferers nationwide, who may find decoding ingredient labels scarier than ghosts & goblins this Halloween. Kids in this position, or caring peers who empathize with them, can build awareness by trick-or-treating for charity in support of the the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Another way to help? Have kids pick allergen free candy for your family to give out this year.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You've Got a Friend

photo: Guillaume Paumier / Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-3.0.
Summer, we hardly knew ye! Few school-age kids are thrilled to see September arrive, but at least they have the pleasure of reuniting with friends.

Being a friend is arguably the most important way kids to help other kids, and certainly the most common. Not every kid can start a peer-support charity, but every kid can be a friend.

Why does this matter? Friendships are "among the most important activities of life," writes Anita Gurian, PhD, in "Do Kids Need Friends?" for the NYU Child Study Center. Part of this is the support function most of us think of first -- friends help kids cope with troubling times and transitions such as family stress, starting adolescence & life's inevitable disappointments. But they also acclimate us at a young age to scary emotions like anger, aggression & rejection and provide practice in dealing with all these and more. One constant through the ages & stages is the issue of reciprocity: friendships are sustained when each friend both gives and receives. Think of how important that is in work, marriage & other relationships and it's easy to see why friendship is such a rich training ground for life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Food on the Table

This personalized placemat is a kids-helping-kids twofer: The design is teen-created and benefits Save the Children, while the placemats themselves are made in the USA by "sustainably employed" single moms -- helping them feed their kids & break the poverty cycle. Type color on the name (and family name, for that matter) can be switched out in a click, so it's easy to customize one for each family member.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Consider the Source

photo: Julien Harneis via Wikimedia Commons
 Cell phones for teenagers are like gills for fish at this point, with nearly 90% of 14- to 17-year-olds now owning a mobile phone. But what percentage of those frantically texting teens know their phones -- and TVs, computers, game consoles & other gadgets -- could be connected to the systematic killing, orphaning, mutilation and exploitation of their peers in Congo?

My 15-year-old didn't, until he was asked to research "conflict minerals" (tungsten, tin, and tantalum) found in Congo and used in all types of electronic devices. Smuggled minerals, it turns out, have been funding one of the bloodiest conflicts since WWII, with brutal militia continuing to rape and kill their way through parts of the Congo and neighboring countries. Disturbed to find that our home (and pockets) contained several e-devices made by companies that haven't done much to avoid conflict minerals, my son created a "Blood Gadgets" page to push for corporate responsibility & consumer advocacy. Imagine how many (essentially enslaved) Congolese child soldiers and child mineral miners -- not to mention their parents -- could be saved if every tech-addicted teen demanded a certification system for conflict-free gadgets, so that buying a conflict-free phone would be as simple as fair-trade coffee or an organic apple.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gone Camping

image: Canoe Islands French Camp 
 via Wikimedia  Commons
A couple of my teen sons' friends have always seemed like the "camp counselor type." They have a natural way with younger children -- helping out without getting too bossy or controlling, and always keeping a sense of humor. Now that they're old enough, maybe they'll put those talents to use as junior counselors, or counselors-in-training (CITs), at a day or sleepaway camp.

When the CIT system works as it should, it provides a two-way kids-helping-kids opportunity. In exchange for the great camp experience CITs help give younger children, those children give their CITs a lasting leadership experience.

One camp's study on leadership growth in its counselors-in-training, shared through the American Camp Associaton website, found the teen CITs appreciated the "realness" of the learning they did on the job, in contrast to the more abstract learning done at school. On a daily basis, CITs teach younger kids tangible skills, monitor their safety & well-being, mediate disputes, and help them build positive relationships with each other. Hmm...sounds a lot like what good managers do in the corporate world, doesn't it?

The study acknowledged that working with young children can be "very stressful." For some -- very introverted teens, for instance -- I can see how camp demands could be inappropriate, and a "quieter" or more predictable summer job a better fit. But for others -- as the study illustrated -- the challenge ultimately increases their ability to manage pressures, ask for help when needed, and stay organized & prepared so that situations don't get overwhelming. All fabulous assets for college life and beyond.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Doggedly Determined

image: amazon.com
 If you stopped by Amazon today, you probably saw the great story about 7-year-old-author Evan Moss. Afflicted with nighttime seizures that are perilous if not managed instantly with medication or, sometimes, a 911 call, Evan self-published a book, My Seizure Dog, to raise money for a specially trained canine companion capable of sniffing out seizures before they begin -- and warning his parents. The cost of such a pet is $13,000, and to date Evan's book has raised $41,000. Where did the extra cash go? He's donated all of it to help other kids -- 7 so far -- complete their fundraising goals and obtain seizure dogs.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Classy Gift

Stuck for end of year teacher gifts? Even when the spotlight's on teacher, kids can help other kids by putting all or part of their teacher-gift budget toward a donation to Donors Choose this spring. The way this works is really cool: Kids/families go online to select a project their teacher will love, choosing from a range of requests submitted by classrooms in need nationwide. They click the "in honor of" option when checking out and designate their teacher. Later, the teacher will hear back from the classroom that benefitted!

Want to go the extra mile? Use teacher thank you stationery to let him/her know about the donation, either in an individual note or a budget-friendly booklet made up of one sheet per student.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Save the Next Dance For Me

photo: Scott McGrath via Wikimedia Commons
Hey teens --want to put an extra spring in your step this spring? Donating prom dresses will do that for you. Pass your dress -- and last year's too, if you still have it -- on to one of the many organizations nationwide that take donations & match them with peers in need. Find a prom dress donation site near you, or if there isn't one, donate a dress by mail. The few dollars you spend on postage will feel like a million bucks when you help another girl look like, well... a million bucks!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mitzvah Magic

Image: Tailored Type on Zazzle
One of my favorite aspects of the bar & bat mitzvahs my kids have been attending over the past couple of years is learning about new charities, and in some cases new ways for teens to help their peers, through the many bar and bat mitzvah projects their friends have chosen to undertake. Mitzvah projects are a terrific opportunity for a concentrated kids-helping-kids effort. A few ideas (with thanks to the Mitzvah Circle Foundation for the first 4 suggestions!)

~ Start a "Lids for Kids" campaign, collecting cool new hats -- baseball caps for summer, fun knits for winter -- to donate to the pediatric cancer center at an area hospital.

~If you know of an organization that works with teen moms, ask your synagogue or school to help you throw a "baby shower": put a crib or pack-and-play in the lobby and ask people to fill it up with new baby supplies, from clothing to diapers.

~Collect gently used board games for an area agency that works with low-income youth, or even for the offices of local counselors/social workers who express a need for games (no, the iPad hasn't made them obselete; board games are still great icebreakers & relationship builders).

~Collect gently used sports equipment for the nearest Boys & Girls Club, YMCA or other agency that offers youth sports programs for kids/teens in need.

~Run a lemonade stand [ or three ;) ] for Alex's Lemonade.

~Gather friends, or host a party, to make no-sew blankets for Project Linus.

~Go green, collecting gently used plastic toys for Secondhand Toys.

~Make dreams come true by running a Make-a-Wish Kids for Wish Kids project.

~Knit newborn hats for From Ewe to You.

~Have a sleepover and collect new PJs for the Pajama Program.

~ Do like Riley Goodfellow and eat rice & beans for a month (hey, she did it at 8!), donating the grocery money you save to an organization that fights youth hunger, or to charity:water like Riley did.

~ Organize a spare change campaign to help kids.

Done with your kids-helping-kids mitzvah project? Take it a step further by choosing bar / bat mitzvah party supplies that benefit Save the Children.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let Freedom Ring

Think slavery is dead? Think again. According to the International Justice League, human trafficking yields over $32 billion a year for those who "by force and deception, sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage." Stunningly, modern-day slaves outnumber those of the horrific trans-Atlantic slave trade era -- and include, today, nearly 2 million children exploited in the commercial sex industry.

At the ripe old age of 12, now-young-adult Zach Hunter created the "Loose Change to Loosen Change" campaign, enlisting students everywhere in gathering spare change from their homes, pockets & family cars to donate to the International Justice League's anti-slavery work. The IJM works on 4 fronts: victim relief, perpetrator accountability, survivor aftercare, and "structural transformation" to prevent future abuse and enslavement.

It's so easy for kids to help. Just order "Loose Change to Loosen Chains" materials, and get started.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Divine Valentine

heart art by my niece :)

Can you believe it? We're little more than a month away from the Day of Love. And what better day for kids to show compassion for their less fortunate peers?

As always, Save the Children valentines are a class act, with art by illustrators Mo Willems, Kevin Henkes, Ian Falconer, Leuyen Pham, and (my personal fave of this year's designs) Brian Selznick. When they choose these valentines, kids help low-income U.S. peers break the cycle of poverty through Save the Children's work in education, health & resilience. Each box of 30 limited-edition cards sells for $25, which is tax deductible minus the $6 fair-market value of the set.

Also benefitting Save the Children are KKG personalized valentine stickers for candy, including boy valentine stickers with UFO, rocket & sports themes; girl valentine stickers with ladybugs, rainbows & flowers; and gender-neutral valentine stickers with little red guitars. Because love (of course) rocks.