Youth United Way volunteering

Youth United Way volunteering at Salvation Army. In the box: Katie, Anna, & Emily (Notre Dame. Around the box: Tess, JT (Cape), Blake, Kimberly (Jackson)

Youth United Way volunteered at the Salvation Army this week by helping sort and display some of the 2,200 donated coats and mountains of canned goods from the Boy Scouts.

"I volunteer because I love to help out the community and it makes me feel proud of myself to know that I really can make a difference in the lives of people," said Cape Girardeau Public schools student Quitman McBride III. Quitman is one of almost 30 Youth United Way members that represent Cape, Jackson, Saxony Lutheran, Scott City, and Notre Dame high schools.

Youth United Way members got a late start this school year because of staffing issues at United Way, but have started a monthly schedule of volunteering. They have also raised more than $15,000 so far. Youth United Way functions like a small United Way by raising money among students, accepting grant applications from youth organizations, and allocating the money in spring.

For the 2009 funding season, Youth United Way members hope to focus their resources on reducing the number of area young people engaged in risky behaviors such as alcohol abuse, sex and drug use. During an informal discussion about these hot topics, students agreed that the only real way to help at-risk kids is to somehow reach their parents.

Youth United Way members volunteer their time to help the community, and especially their peers, live healthy, happy, productive lives. "Not to mention," continued Quitman, "it counts toward my community service hours I need to graduate from high school with honors."