BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Kristin Smith was assigned to East Feliciana High School in Jackson last year. In her second year working as a Teach for America volunteer, she's mobilized a new club for students.
As they gather in the school library, they are chattering and long lanky bodies slide into chairs along long folding tables. These students are here because they care about others. This is the United Way's Youth Volunteer Corps. It's a program offered to teens all over the Baton Rouge Metro area, but here at East Feliciana, they're going much deeper than most teens.
Earlier in the day they had gathered to listen to a woman from the Baton Rouge domestic violence center known as the Iris Center. Now this meeting was to figure out ways to raise money among the students in the school to donate to the Iris Center.
"What are some other things that would get you excited..." Smith asked. She searched faces for glimpses of an idea surfacing.
A boy raised his hand, "How about a movie day and like, the entry fee, is like a clothing item or a toothbrush..."
Smith smiles, "Great idea! And what else?"
A teenaged girl sighs, "I wish I could think of something just as fun as those ice-bucket challenges were!"
Another girl almost whispers, "What about Pie the Principal?" The room erupts in laughter. Principal Dr. Curt Green is standing in the room. The idea ripples down the table. Kristin Smith asks, "Or it could be a dean or a coach?"
And they added "Pie the Principal" to their flip chart of ideas.
Smith says she conceived of the group as a way to hands and feet to good ideas.
"We always ax them questions," she said, betraying her Louisiana upbringing, "and they come up with themes and topics and it's really student led. So they bring the enthusiasm and we follow up on it."
Smith said it was Teach for America that brought her back to Louisiana.
"I didn't know much about East Feliciana Parish," Kristin admitted, "But I love it. And the kids here are so enthusiastic, we'll do great things!"
Because the fundraiser is created by the students, ribbons will sell like hotcakes among students. 5Ks will be run with everyone having fun in the process....a teen's idea of fun is exactly what you need for good causes. And along the way, this Teach for America volunteer helps these students learn how rewarding giving their talents to help others can be.
Capital One Bank, the United Way's Volunteer Center and WAFB are sponsors of the Power of 9 Awards to give outstanding volunteers a chance to shine before a larger crowd.