Jerry Davich: ‘Kids these days’ not as spoiled as you think
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org December 1, 2012 7:10PM
Gary's West Side Leadership Academy student council president David King, 18, (left) holds the door as student council secretary Kayla Brister, 17, makes sure a donation is secure as she rings the bell for the Salvation Army donation kettle outside the JC Penney entrance at the Westfield Southlake Mall in Hobart, Ind. Saturday December 1, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 3, 2013 6:18AM
“Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”
This famous quote most likely echoes the feelings of many adults these days, especially in the wake of the recent teen-related incidents at Westfield Southlake mall in Hobart.
“Those events have clouded some people’s feelings toward young people,” said Bob Fulton, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle coordinator for the Gary-Merrillville area.
“Clouded” may be too kind of a word, some would say, but you get his point.
Most adults I know are fed up with today’s youth, quickly labeling “kids these days” as spoiled, pampered and out of control. These kids in question, especially teenagers, don’t do very much to counter this perception and, by nature, they take pride in their timeless stand of rebellion.
But today’s column isn’t another public slam against youngsters, thanks to Fulton and other adult mentors who are continually in the corner of today’s teenagers. No, this column is to show the flip side of public opinion on this topic.
On Saturday, several region teenagers joined the faceless ranks of Salvation Army bell-ringers to collect donations for the agency’s iconic holiday season fundraiser. This includes at the Hobart mall, where the Salvation Army’s kettle campaign has taken a financial hit since last month’s incident.
“With all the recent disruptions at the mall related to young people, and the unwillingness to connect with the larger society, I thought it might be nice to show people there are some young people who give us reason to be hopeful about the next generation,” Fulton said. “I think sometimes we don’t look hard enough to prove ourselves wrong.”
With this attitude in mind, teens from various communities and different school groups volunteered their time, energy and enthusiasm Saturday to help the cause. This has taken place in previous years, too. I didn’t know this. Did you?
“I hope these great youth organizations will counter what people think of today’s youth,” Fulton said optimistically.
I first met Fulton last week at a morning meeting of the Hobart Kiwanis, who invited me to chat with their members about making connections. Before Fulton left the meeting, he noted that the Red Kettle campaign has been hurting for various reasons.
“Things have been difficult this year and I am afraid that the hangover from the election may be impacting people with their feelings of generosity,” Fulton said.
Afterward, he told me about the efforts of those teens as well as the faith he harbors for our future.
“I am asking you to help me take a look around for the reasons for us to set aside our fears and have something to hope for in the next generation,” he said.
A learning experience
Sure enough, dozens of area kids and teens converged at the mall, including Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, student council members and honor society students.
“Our students are very excited to take part in this,” said David King, adviser for the Gary West Side High School student council. “We are trying to teach them how to do what’s right and the student council is all about serving.”
King, who also is student council president for the state of Indiana, said about 10 West Side students signed up to volunteer through the program, a first for his students.
Girl Scouts Cadette Troop 30312 and Daisy Troop 30156 also volunteered, at the Wal-Mart store in Hobart.
“We want our girls to learn from this experience,” said organizer Jane McIntire. “We want to show them how if feels to be a little cold and a little miserable so they understand what some other less-fortunate kids have to live with.”
Most of the Girl Scouts attend Longfellow Elementary School in Gary, and they’ve been volunteering in the bell-ringing program for eight years. This was the first time they were joined by boys with Cub Scout Pack 64, totaling roughly 50 youths, McIntire noted.
“We want them all to learn how to give back to their community,” she added.
About 20 students from the Crown Point High School National Honor Society took turns to ring bells for donations on Saturday, at the Strack & Van Til store near their school.
“They are some of our most enthusiastic volunteers,” Fulton said.
In all, more than 60 Honor Society students will volunteer time over the next two weekends, said sponsor Amanda Campos.
You see, there are children and teenagers among us who are actively trying to improve their community, change their world and sway our perception of who they are. It’s up to us to not only notice them, but to also praise them.
Oh, and the author of that famous quote was none other than the Greek philosopher Socrates, sometime around 420 B.C., long before shopping malls, shooting incidents and possibly even bell-ringing for spare change.
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