Ian Brennan wasn’t satisfied.
Even after delivering over 2,500 pounds of food to his local food bank, and helping them setup their computer database, he wanted to do more. That’s why he and some friends created an annual food drive for the center.
Ian’s efforts have helped feed thousands of families.
By the way, Ian did this when he was only 16.
Service is so important to Ian that he and his friend Ibrahim Souadda (16 at the time) came up with the idea of setting up community service clubs in their high schools. Even though they didn’t go to the same school, they decided that they could simultaneously set up clubs in their high schools.
I loved that when Ian and Ibrahim were talking to other high school students about their experience with service projects, they advised students to “keep your goals reasonable.”
Ian and Ibrahim originally wanted to build a homeless shelter but determined that a food drive, book drive and setting up community service clubs was more doable. Most people would consider the 2,500+ pounds of food and 2,000+ books they collected pretty ambitious and not the result of a “fallback goal.”
Ibrahim stressed that having an impact is easier than you think, because people want to help: “What made me the happiest was all the kids in my school who showed up. Seeing that they were passionate and that they were engaged. Seeing students like me who wanted to be a part of something bigger.”
Ibrahim and Ian are two of the many inspirational kids I’ve met over the years through a service leadership program for teens called Spark the Wave.
Casey Neary, Ruth Mengistu and Allegra Johnson built a library in Ethiopia. These inspirational kids, who were 16 (Allegra) and 17 (Casey and Ruth) at the time, collected 10,000 books, got them to Ethiopia and stocked a library. After all, why shouldn’t kids in Ethiopia have access to learning that can help them improve their lives? Casey, Ruth and Allegra created the library in honor of Ruth’s sister Miriam who passed away at a young age. Ruth and Allegra went to Ethiopia to visit the library and held a 3-week bible school for local kids while they were there.
Laney Coull at the age of 15 led a toy drive to collect toys for kids in St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital. The toy drive is now an annual event collecting 450 – 500 toys.
Laney said, “There were tons of [toy] donations, and I remember being so surprised. If you ask people for a little help, they will be more willing than you may think. You just have to speak out, and be willing to make a difference.” Laney continued, “I learned to get involved. If you feel strongly about an issue, you should work to improve it. All the little things you can do to help make the world a better place add up, and eventually make a huge difference,”
As one of the inspirational kids said, “Anyone can make an impact. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, the only thing holding you back is getting started.”
Click the links to find out about Spark the Wave or its weeklong summer service/leadership camp for teens, Wave Week (in Philadelphia July 14-19).