At a time when we hear so much about troubled teens and the problems they cause in society, it’s good to call attention to young people who are making good choices. Following are two accounts of youth who have gone the extra mile to help others.
In one instance, a youth conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called “the Mormons,” in Sun City, California, brought more than 200 young people together to help senior citizens with yard work and home maintenance. (In the LDS church, youth conferences typically gather the youth of several LDS congregations in an area where they can work together and build friendships. Activities may include social interactions, service projects, and motivational speakers.)
Teams of 6 or 12 youth visited 40 homes in a planned community for senior citizens. They pulled weeds, trimmed hedges, helped with minor home repairs, and performed other household chores.
The youth conference there is an annual event, as it is in many stakes (groups of several local congregations) throughout the Church. This particular group usually uses Saturday mornings for charitable activities. “Every year we go and do service,” Debbie Yokshas, one of the youth involved, said to the Californian-North County Times. “Sometimes it’s hard to get kids to do it but once you’re doing it, you always enjoy it.”
“This is phenomenal,” Bill Mosteller, one of the recipients of the labor said. “Bless your hearts.” Mosteller himself uses a wheelchair; he and other seniors like him can have a difficult time performing the tasks that the youth took care of in a few hours.
Mosteller added that it’s common to hear about troubled youth of today and their problems, “but you don’t hear about things like this.”
In another amazing story, a young man who collected donations for children in the Dominican Republic for his Eagle project unexpectedly got to go and hand out the gifts himself.
Jeff Rowan, of Merced, California, collected small toys and school supplies and put them together into packets for children having work done at a free dental clinic. “We started out by getting school supplies like crayons and colored pencils, along with (stuff like) bouncy balls, baseball cards and wristbands that say ‘I love baseball.’ ” Jeff said to the Modesto Bee. “Baseball is their favorite sport in the Dominican.”
He had planned to send the packets with a group of dentists, including his father and uncle, as they made a visit to provide dental care to children in the impoverished country. But, in an unusual turn of events, Jeff’s uncle was unable to make the trip. And Jeff got to go in his place.
Prospective Eagle scouts who gather donations to send to other countries don’t always get to meet the recipients of their gifts. But Jeff was able to personally hand out the packets he’d put together. “People started lining up and waiting in line two to three hours to see a dentist so they could get a packet,” he said to the Bee.
It was a humbling experience. “I felt grateful for the things that I have,” he said to the Bee. “When people get so excited about small gifts like colored pencils and bouncy balls, it makes you realize how much we all take for granted in this country.”
Jeff is expected to receive his Eagle in April. His troop is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The book “True to the Faith” states that “one true key to happiness is to labor for the happiness of others.” These youth and many others are finding that this is true.