Kate AtwoodBy Kate Atwood

It’s a great view from where I sit – watching and learning about all the dynamic and inspiring ways people are helping others.  I continue to be amazed by all the charitable acts in our community, especially those driven by Atlanta’s youth.

I am floored by how many young people under the age of 20 are leading the way. From school fundraising projects to spring- break volunteer trips, kids today are finding unusual ways to give back, and we are all benefiting from their efforts.

It was right around my 20th birthday that I began volunteering at a camp for grieving children in Virginia.  Having lost my mom at the age of 12, I was drawn by the opportunity to help children who were facing a similar struggle. My life was forever changed by that experience, and ultimately it provided the inspiration for Kate’s Club, which I founded six years ago here in Atlanta.

Kids and teens today have infinite opportunities to learn first-hand what giving back means and how it can shape their lives in positive ways.  Three elements will help guide a young person’s decision on how to get plugged into philanthropy:

Carve out time: Kids are busy, so finding available time to volunteer may be the biggest initial challenge. In my personal example, I chose to dedicate time during my summer break over a period of several days.  Projects can take place over a variety of time frames, and you can decide what works best for you. Figure out how much time you have to offer and find a project that fits this window.

Pick a project that interests you: Don’t just go through the motions without feeling a connection; find a project that incorporates something you already enjoy doing. Whether it’s kids, animals, the environment or sports, you can find a charitable experience that fits almost any interest. Help out at a local shelter or plan a kickball game that raises money for a charity. By incorporating an interest, you are more likely to remain committed to the cause over time.

Make a donation. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of dollars; it can just be five. This investment will make an impact and will further commit you to the cause. Trust me, every gift in any size helps.

Check out these online resources to find out about opportunities around us:

For more about Kate’s Club, visit www.katesclub.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.