Some students don’t have much time or money to spare, but many service opportunities are available to them on campus and around town to help the community and each other.
Youth Champions Charity
Youth Champions Charity, a non-profit located in Orem, has had the chance to help youth across the country access education and medical treatments.
Utah is home to the majority of treatment programs in the U.S., according to Ammie Black, executive director of Youth Champions Charity. Families from around the country have loved ones who suffer from disability, disorder, disease or addiction. Although the families are seeking hope and healing for their loved one, many of them cannot afford treatment, she explained.
“Youth Champions Charity’s mission is to channel donor funds to assist with costs associated with the education or treatment of underprivileged youth in need,” Black said.
According to Black, the average cost of providing one of these individuals with the services he or she needs is $120,000 annually.
Because of lack of funds, families often struggle to pay for the entire treatment and withdraw their family member before adequate care is received.
“We strive to help these children reach the end of treatment, increasing their success rate,” Black said. “Since 2012 we have raised hundreds of thousands through grants and local donations. Each donation was then used as a scholarship for youth across the country.”
Black said Youth Champions Charity is always looking for volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of the youth.
On Nov. 5, Youth Champions Charity will host the “Art of Healing,” an annual fundraiser that will feature donated art from local artists to be auctioned off at The Eleve Event Center in Pleasant Grove.
“This year many of our donations are from young adults who wish to give back to others by donating their art,” Black said.
All proceeds will go toward helping families and their loved ones afford the treatment they need. Everyone is welcome to participate.
Childhood Cancer Awareness
Many have also participating in September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Organizations around the nation take this time to honor and bring hope to cancer patients and their family.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization website, “In the U.S., 15,780 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year; approximately 1/4 of them will not survive the disease.”
For the last 25 years, the Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital has invited people to bring hope to children suffering from cancer with the simple idea of folding paper. On their website, everyone is invited to virtually fold and create an origami crane and share it on social media to spread hope and awareness.
“In Asian ‘folklore’ it is said that whomever folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted one wish,” said Sikoti Langi from the Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital’s communication department. “On the cancer floor patients and staff fold paper cranes together to foster hope for a miracle. Over the years it has become the symbol for fighting childhood cancer.”
Langi said the goal this year is to create 200,000 cranes. So far they have created more than 15,000 cranes on the site.
Langi said BYU students are also welcome to share a message of goodness or encouragement about a child they know who has cancer. They can also donate items here. These simple measures can show support and love to the children and bring them hope during difficult moments.
“The children often feel shy or embarrassed about having cancer; they want to feel ‘normal,'” Langi said. He said it’s important to help children “understand they can have fun and have a normal childhood, for the most part.”
“Showing them that family, friends or sometimes complete strangers care about them and that they’re worth something (helps them feel) they are needed here in life,” Langi said.
The Center for Service and Learning at BYU, also called Y-Serve, encourages students to get involved in the local community in numerous ways.
With over 70 different service programs, Y-Serve connects students with service opportunities in the community. The Y-Serve office has two locations in the Wilkinson Student Center in Rooms 2330 and 2010.
Some of the service programs, such as “Best Buddies” or “Locks of Love,” are nationally organized. Many other programs originated from BYU students, such as “Conexiones,” a program that connects Hispanic families to the community by helping them improve English skills and comprehension.
“People on campus should know that we’re committed to finding some kind of service that works for them (among all the programs),” said Lee Salazar, one of Y-Serve’s vice presidents.
Each experience at Y-Serve has the potential to change the life of someone in the community and enrich the volunteers’ own life.
Camp Kesem is a summer camp that works with the Y-Serve program to comfort children whose parents have cancer. Each year more volunteers join the group to create memories for these children and their families.
Jarna Knickerbocker, student member of the Y-Serve service council, said when she first came to BYU she had a hard time fitting in and loving it, but her experience at Y-Serve helped her adapt and create bonds with the university.
“Coming to Y-Serve as a volunteer helped me appreciate BYU,” Knickerbocker said. “I find my place. Now BYU feels like a home.”
Madeleine Hansen, another member of the service council, said each “little moment” at Y-Serve is like “little miracles,” and Y-Serve volunteers and leaders can make a difference.
“I’m a different person thanks to this center,” Hansen said. “Just being able to take time out as students and look outside of ourselves makes a huge difference.”
Y-Serve recently continued BYU’s traditions with Y-Days on Sept. 25–26.
What started with a group of students serving by repainting the “Y” on the mountain has turned into a community service weekend event, where BYU students are encouraged to participate.
The different Y-Days projects include a food drive, community cleanups and working on a rural housing development.
College is the time for students to focus on their life and schooling, but service can help individuals find true meaning.
“Service helped me take the “me” out of my life and put others in,” said Matt Kelly, a Y-Serve service council member.