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For the first time, Sarnia-Lambton residents have the opportunity to participate in the Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge, which is celebrating its fifth year.

Sarnia & Lambton County This Week Wednesday, April 25, 2012 print edition & online.

Youth encouraged to ChangeTheWorld

By Heather Linda Young

SARNIA-LAMBTON - For the first time, Sarnia-Lambton residents have the opportunity to participate in the Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge, which is celebrating its fifth year.

The challenge, called “ChangeTheWorld,” is a campaign to encourage and increase youth volunteerism and to foster a life-long commitment to volunteering.

In order to participate, a community must have a formal volunteer centre – something Lambton County didn’t have until the launch of SarniaGives in 2011.

“We are very excited. It’s a great way to introduce ourselves to local youth,” said the online volunteer centre’s coordinator, Samantha Scimmi.

“Our goal is to reach 7,500 volunteer hours during the three week campaign.”

SarniaGives, partnered with Sarnia Community Foundation, is one of 25 volunteer centres and organisations across Ontario that is participating.

Provincially, the goal is to engage 25,000 youth in local events and activities for a minimum of three hours of volunteering.

Scimmi hopes that youth who take part in the challenge will get even more out of it than they put in.

“It’s a huge self-esteem builder,” she explained.

“They get some ownership of what’s happening in their community. They have an impact. They have a say. They get to look at something and say, ‘I did that. I made that person smile. I helped fund that program.’”

She added that many post-secondary institutions and workplaces also ask about volunteer experience when considering young people as students or employees.

“They want to know that you’re engaged.”

To help facilitate volunteering, SarniaGives has partnered with One Tomato Project to host four garden builds. Two have already taken place in Sarnia and Petrolia, but there will be two more this weekend: Apr. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Sarnia and Apr. 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Forest’s North Lambton Lodge.

However, volunteering outside the garden builds will also count toward ChangeTheWorld hours.

ChangeTheWorld started Apr. 15 and will run until May 6.

For more information, or to log volunteer hours to count towards Sarnia-Lambton’s total, visit www.sarniagives.com. Youth aged 14 to 18 are invited to participate.

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