Youth United Way builds a foundation

Community awareness, character and a philanthropic spirit.

Outside of the home, there is no one better suited to teach young people these virtues than the Area Wide United Way. That is the local United Way's mission for forming its newest division, the Youth United Way.

Three students from each area high school are participating in the new youth division, including Central High School, Jackson High School, Scott City High School, Notre Dame Regional High School and Saxony Lutheran High School. More schools will be asked to participate in the future.

The program will help teenagers become responsible adults through activities and programs that build character and self-confidence, while educating them about community needs.

They will even be given a slice of United Way's funding to tackle a serious problem: youth substance abuse.

The effort will be more than talk. At a recent monthly meeting, the 15 students broke up into committees to research and address priority needs for youths, to organize campaigns and special events and to identify and coordinate community service projects.

This is an outstanding idea. High school students have been actively involved with the United Way in the past and have always been an important part of the group's mission.

But by formally organizing and implementing such an informative program, the United Way will help these students become well-informed, civic-minded adults.

It's also smart for the United Way. Once young people get involved with the group, they're more likely to stay involved as adults. That is especially true considering that part of the program will be informing the youngsters about what the United Way does, which is to serve as a leadership organization in uniting people and resources around genuine community issues.

In plainspeak, the group offers hope and help for those who need it.

Participating students in Youth United Way this year:

Jackson High School: Amy Sappington, Justin Gibbs and Jessica Edwards.

Central High School: Lisa Crain, Katie Porter and Brett Ford.

Scott City High School: Melissa Miller, Blake Amick, and Brittany Hill.

Notre Dame Regional High School: Trevor Pearlman, Jessica Diebold and John Ray.

Saxony Lutheran High School: Jonathan Burford, Jayson Spain and Deanna Leible.

The students will no doubt be enriched by the program. The United Way should be applauded.

For more information, contact the Area United Way at 334-9634.