People who are down on their luck appreciate it when people go out of their way to bring a smile on their face during the Christmas season. It also might mean a little bit more to them when the holiday cheer is brought to them by a youth.
In Alpena there is no shortage of children and teenagers that make time to go Christmas caroling, wrap presents and make Christmas cards for others who may be struggling.
Garrett Beaulieu is a 12 year old. He said he volunteers because it is the right thing to do and because everyone should be happy during Christmas. He said it makes him feel special to see how those he is lending support react to what he is doing for them.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Ciara Corwin, Garrett Beaulieu and Jaden Mayfield wrap gifts and make Christmas cards that will be used to brighten the Christmas of other members of the Alpena Boys Club and their families.
"It isn't often you see kids out trying to help other people, but many of them don't have what we have," Beaulieu said. "This is a way for me to let them know somebody cares."
Ciara Corwin, 11, was the winner of a Christmas card contest at the Alpena Boys and Girls Club. Her design will be published and sent to families of the kids at the club and others. She echoed Beaulieu thoughts on spreading cheer during Christmas.
"I like to help people, because it makes people feel good," Corwin said. "I like making the Christmas cards the most, because I like to draw. I think more kids should help others. I like working with the older people and visiting the hospital, because sometimes they don't have a lot of family around them for Christmas."
Karyssa Kern is the Coordinator for the Youth Volunteer Corp in Alpena. She said the impact the kids get from seeing those who are in need during Christmas is an eye opening experience for them and it teaches them that Christmas is about giving, more than it is about receiving. She said she expects that many kids who help others now will continue it well into adulthood.
"It opens their eyes about philanthropy and how they can have an impact on a large scale," Kern said. "Once a youth gets involved at the junior high age, it seems to carry over through the high school years and becomes a habit that is with them for many years."
Jennifer Digna is the Program Director at the club and has volunteered since she was a young child. Not only does she volunteer, but encourages the next generation to do it also.
"The older generation of volunteers need the youth to step up and take over and this shows we do have kids that are caring in the community," Digna said. "I think there is a willingness from the kids to give back. I think by them starting at a young age and seeing the benefits of what they are doing pushes them to do it even to a larger degree when they are older."
Beaulieu said he volunteers and spreads cheer because he know it is making a positive impact on others. He said it might also come in handy when applying for college and future employment. He said it also sheds a positive light about today's youth in the eyes of those in Alpena.
"It shows them that we're not bad kids and troublemakers," Beaulieu said. "I want to have my name known in the community in a good way, and not a bad way."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.