McFarland Youth Center (MYC) is hoping to help youth volunteer with leadership roles and allowing youths plan activities to assist others.
MYC is hosting a month of caring in August to encourage youths to participate in volunteerism.
The summer and after-school program for middle school-age youths is a nonprofit with a drop-in style that is free to attend. MYC is open to youths from communities outside McFarland.
“We’re going to do a month of caring every summer, and we’re going to continue to do our monthly volunteering activities as well,” MYC managing director Megan Beckler said.
The center has a service club of seven students who take a leadership role to help plan which volunteer projects they want to do. Typically, the youths will participate in two or three projects each month, but one of the members in the group brought up the idea of participating in an entire month of caring.
Beckler said the group acts as a focus group. The youths talk about what projects they want to do, and employees at MYC help to guide them to organize the project, gather donations and figure out how to meet people’s transportation needs.
“So they get to do the step-by-step, and it takes a lot of critical thinking on their part, which is a really nice asset for them to develop,” Beckler said.
The center plans to have a variety of projects for youths to get involved with, including picking up trash, baking cookies for donation and washing wheelchairs at McFarland Villas Assisted Living.
“It’s really good for the kids to experience diversity and understand the different levels of needs,” she said.
She wants to help the children understand ways to help personal, environmental and animals’ needs.
“I try make sure there’s different facets in there,” she said. “It gives them exposure.”
MYC hopes that getting youths involved with volunteering will help them stay altruistic later in life.
“Research has definitely proven that getting youth involved in volunteering activities at a young age really creates that desire for diversity and desire for altruism and more volunteer activities throughout their life,” Beckler said. “Empathy, compassion, acceptance of others and just a desire to help, to continue to participate beyond their time here and maybe become leaders in the future.”
Parents who want to get children from sixth to eighth grade involved can contact Beckler at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 838-8389.
MYC will host an annual barbecue at MYC from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 28. Area youths and parents are encouraged to learn more about the center and enjoy a meal. Attendees are asked to bring an item to share if possible and to make reservations by email or phone.