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Can Sarnia-Lambton youth change the world?  They have a three-week shot.

Sarnia Observer, Thursday, April 19, 2012 print and online

Youth challenged to volunteer

By Barbara Simpson

Can Sarnia-Lambton youth change the world?

They have a three-week shot.

Sarnia Gives is challenging local youth, ages 14 to 18 years old, to volunteer at least three hours as part of the Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge.

The challenge was founded in 2008 in order to get young people volunteering in their communities.

It’s the first time Sarnia youth will be participating and the local volunteer centre hopes to contribute 7,500 hours towards a 125,000-hour provincial goal.

A variety of volunteer opportunities abound for local youth to make a difference, said Sam Scimmi, coordinator of Sarnia Gives.

“We have youth involved in everything in the community,” she said at the local campaign launch Monday. “We have such a strong volunteer community in Sarnia-Lambton.”

Studies have shown some Ontario high school students have been kept from graduation because they don’t complete the required 40 volunteer hours, said Jane Anema, executive director of the Sarnia Community Foundation.

Youth may just not know where to start, Scimmi said, or may not see the value volunteering offers.

“I think for a lot of youth it wasn't only finding an opportunity but an opportunity that excited them,” she said.

Sarnia Gives can help students find volunteer opportunities at a variety of community organizations. It’s partnered with the One Tomato Project to encourage youth to participate in community garden builds over the next two weeks.

Volunteers are invited to help with the community garden at First Christian Reformed Church this Saturday. They’re also welcome to help at the downtown Sarnia community garden and at a new garden to be planted at Petrolia's Meadowview Villa Sunday.

“Even if you don't want to dig holes or plant flowers, they can come out to the gardens and do photography or blog,” Scimmi said.

Aside from networking and building a resume, volunteering allows young people to explore possible career paths.

“Sometimes it's learning what you don't want to do,” Anema added.

Growing up in North Bay, Anema first started volunteering at a long-term care facility for polio patients. She quickly learned she couldn't do the job for a living.

Scimmi, who is also a lifelong volunteer, said her experiences helping out in the community have shaped her life.

“The number one thing ... is you get more out of where you volunteer than you give,” she said.

Students can learn more about the challenge and log their hours at Volunteer hours are counted towards the Change the World challenge until May 6.


Sam Scimmi, coordinator of Sarnia Gives, and Jen Rayson, store manager of Starbucks, launched the Change the World campaign recently. Local youth are being asked to donate three volunteer hours over the next three weeks. BARBARA SIMPSON/THE OBSERVER/QMI AGENCY