In honor of International Volunteer Day, we caught up with 2015 Youth Honoree Nicholas Lowinger’s Gotta Have Sole Foundation and learned more about their amazing network of student volunteers. GHS equips student leaders to run change-making programs in their own communities that educate fellow youth about childhood homelessness and give back to children living in local shelters.
When volunteering through the program, many middle and high school students find that the children in shelters are not the only ones benefitting. The students themselves are transformed by understanding and compassion – and galvanized to continue volunteering in the future.
One club member shared that before participating in the Gotta Have Sole volunteer program, “I had a totally different opinion of what homelessness was in my community. I only thought about people living on the streets, and panhandling. After going into the shelters with my school’s Gotta Have Sole club and meeting young kids and their families, I now have a better understanding of this widespread epidemic in our country and am so glad I can actually do something to give these kids the opportunities they deserve.”
Gotta Have Sole is sometimes able to host programs for even younger students to get involved, including a class fieldtrip for a 5th grade class last June. Students from Rhode Island helped prepare a shipment of shoes for a shelter in Arizona and included hand decorated cards with messages of hope. When asked to reflect on the volunteer experience, one student wrote –
“I always thought about the people who don’t have the things we have. This trip showed me how one person can make a difference.”
Most recently, club members across the country participated in the Gotta Give Back Campaign for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The Campaign raised significant awareness about childhood homelessness and encouraged individuals to make a difference by committing to “give back” in some way.
Club members from the organization’s home base in Rhode Island all the way to Texas joined in and found creative ways to spread the word. One young man wasn’t satisfied with just reaching his own school community and went to the local Boys and Girls Club to involve additional students in the campaign.
“The Gotta Give Back campaign was important to me because it was a way to raise awareness of the homeless in our community and also a way to motivate others to ACT,” he said. “It brought attention to the fact there are thousands of homeless people right here in Fort Worth. It gave youth an innovative way to pledge help and … it was important to me because we ALL have the ability to make a positive impact. We just need to ACT!”
When we presented Nicholas with his World of Children just one month ago, there were 9 active clubs in 8 states. Since then, students have established 4 brand new clubs dedicated to helping children! To date, the program has engaged over 5,500 teenage volunteers who have provided new footwear for over 3,000 homeless children across the United States.
Want to help empower more student volunteers? World of Children funding will help establish new GHS student clubs over the next two years. Just $100 can provide the materials that will help get a new club up and running.
Make a gift through our online gift catalog today and give the gift of volunteerism to the next generation.