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Young Volunteers Put the Fun in Fundraising


It takes a lot of money to support the humanitarian programs of an organization such as the American Red Cross. Take the Measles Initiative, for example—a program committed to reducing measles deaths globally.

For less than a dollar a child overseas can be protected against measles for life. With $500, a group of friends and classmates can easily help vaccinate an entire village of children. With the support of generous contributors, especially youth in the US who have championed this cause for the past decade, the American Red Cross and its Measles Initiative partners have helped vaccinate more than 700 million children. But our work is not done; outbreaks in Africa and other places are putting millions more at risk.

The Boston Latin School Red Cross Club is one of 21 high school Red Cross Clubs supported by the American Red Cross Eastern Massachusetts in the Boston area that has taken on the challenge to help solve humanitarian problems down the street, across the country and around the world. Club members have found a formula for fundraising—mixing leadership and community service with a healthy dose of fun.

Fun-raising

Activities undertaken by the Boston Latin School Red Cross Club usually exceed original expectations. Just last month, the Club organized a Remembering Haiti Benefit Concert, leveraging social media to the fullest. Club members used YouTube and Facebook to find local bands and to get students involved.

The concert was a hit, raising $1,300 for American Red Cross recovery work in Haiti.

“Helping the Red Cross is not about us here at Boston Latin School,” says club co-president Sandy Chan. “The Red Cross is about reaching people in need and impacting lives whether it is local, national or international. Through the Red Cross we’re all innately connected.”

In the past fiscal year, Boston area youth volunteers, including Red Crossers at Boston Latin School, raised more than $6000 for the Measles Initiative, enough money to vaccinate 12 villages of children in developing countries.

The Boston Latin School Red Cross Club also held a disaster relief fundraiser last year that raised more than twice the original expectation, almost $2300, money that can feed breakfast, lunch and dinner to 90 shelter residents. How did they do it? With the prize of a simple Spirit Bag of candy, pompoms and party beads going to the homeroom that made the largest contribution.

Giving Back and Paying Forward

Red Cross Club members are inspired to excel because club sponsor, the American Red Cross Eastern Massachusetts, teaches teen volunteers to own their own social responsibility. “Our volunteers learn how to assess the needs of their community,” says Amelia Aubourg, director of youth programs. “We see the power within each young person; each is a person with potential to give back and pay it forward. We give them the platform to do that.”

The support they have given to communities in eastern Massachusetts—financially, in hours of service delivery and in supporting blood drives—is a real boon to the Red Cross mission. Best of all, these teens are learning the fundamental skills they will need to remain socially responsible throughout their lives.

Writing about the success of the disaster relief fundraiser, Uyen Le, a former member of the Boston Latin School Red Cross Club, encourages other schools to follow suit:

We hope you will take our word for it and start your own campaign. Brainstorm some effective strategies and help spread the word. We are all a part of a wonderful nonprofit humanitarian effort. Together, we can do it. Give 110 percent of your effort and reach out to your community or school.

Take the first step in making a difference in your life and the lives of others by being a part of a Red Cross high school club.

For information on existing clubs, and easy guidelines for starting a new club in your school, visit the school clubs pages of the Red Cross public Web site. To learn how you can start a Measles Initiative project, such as a Vaccinate a Village campaign, visit www.measlesintiative.org. For additional assistance, contact YouthInolvement@usa.redcross.org at American Red Cross national headquarters.