“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
As we work to support youth in becoming healthy, successful individuals and strong leaders, we must remember the importance and value of service. In the JCIT (Junior Counselor In Training) program, there is a constant focus on personal development and leadership development among the 9th graders who make up our team. Lately, the JCITs have been hard at work planning and implementing a service project to give back to local children this holiday season.
In late November, we had great brainstorming session where the JCITs pitched a variety of fundraising ideas. Eventually, the group voted on making deep-fried oreos and brownies to sell, and use the money to buy gifts for local children whose families need support this holiday season. The next week we made lists of exactly what materials we would need and calculated the cost. The JCITs were very focused on both cost and quality, noting bargains on certain items, but insisting we get Ghirardelli brownie mix because it is the best! We also decided to sell dog treats since we would be setting up shop at the park across the street, where many people take their dogs. After materials were purchased, we devoted a whole day of programming to baking, frying, and crafting. The finished product was beautiful: bags of sugar-dusted fried oreos, fudgy brownies, and homemade dog biscuits, all tied with ribbons and a festive gift tag containing a picture of the JCIT crew and the list of ingredients we used.
The day after making our products, we sold them at the park, talking to lots of community members, and petting lots of dogs. After standing hours in the cold, and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones, we raised a total of $295!!! Last Thursday, we took our money over to Target and picked out gifts for the kids whose wishlists we had been given.
The JCITs really took ownership of this project, and let their leadership skills shine. We all got to grow our skills in business, fundraising, baking, crafting, communication, advertising, customer service, and shopping on a budget! I was impressed with the devotion many of them showed to the project, and know that there are more service projects in our future!
By Jennie Bruno, JCIT coordinator