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Why I Volunteer With Kids

Giving youngsters guidance now could benefit generations to come

Motivating others is difficult, especially kids. That's why I make time to talk to a lot of youngsters, to help plant and water the seed of giving in them. We need to teach our kids the value of small gestures. If they see a neighbor whose yard needs trimming, they should knock on the door — especially if it's an older neighbor — and offer to help out.

Or if there's a kid on the block who isn't as good at sports, they should learn to include him (or her) in their games anyway, to make that kid feel like he's part of the group, too.

For adults, the same thing applies: If your community center is looking for volunteers to teach others, for example, how to handle their taxes or how to buy their first home, those of us who have that expertise can have an impact on our neighbors' livelihood.

We need to be observant. When we see kids in need of a little bit of guidance, we can offer that — and we can do it without preaching to them. Remember: We all have talents and gifts. Why not go to the community center or the local library and volunteer to form a class to actively engage the youngsters in dialogue?

If we give kids a voice, a chance to talk about their concerns, maybe we'll learn why some of them feel isolated or are having problems with school or with their social groups. We do that and we're planting seeds with them. You'll be giving back, and hopefully, that will pay its way forward as those youngsters grow and expand their horizons, benefiting from your wisdom along the way.

And you know what? Your greatest moment of pride will come when you see one of those young men or women sitting down years later with younger kids, passing on your example to yet another generation.

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