A Place To Shine: Lisa and Community Connections

Community Connections helps children with and without disabilities

Julianne Merguie volunteers with the ACTS Jr. program as part of Community Connections, where she helps children with and without disabilities interact and feel more comfortable while learning about the performing arts. Continue reading

A “Big Kid” with Big Goals: Working With Friendship Community Care

Volunteering with Friendship Community Care

Fourteen-year-old Payton Wornick is like many kids his age. He enjoys playing video games, hunting and spending time with his family and friends. But when he has free time, he spends it helping out Friendship Community Care. Continue reading

Giving Back

I’m one of those people who make lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, remember to-make-your-lists list, and more. During the holidays my lists double! I also get to inflict my obsession on my son (every kid has to make a list for Santa, right?). Of course if you were to read his list you would quickly see that it is filled with dreams of Spiderman figures, DS games, Legos and much more. After realizing his list grows every time we watch television or walk into a store, I began to wonder what other kids would put on their lists.

Some kids will ask for cell phones, some will ask for Barbie dolls, some will ask for Power Wheels. But there is a quiet group of kids whose lists will not contain any of the above. Their lists will be much more humble, with requests for a warm meal, a warm coat, and shoes that fit.

We tend to forget about this group of kids. They are overlooked in the scheme of our day-to-day duties and many of us only think about helping those kids during the holiday season. However, if you stop and pay attention you will see there are many ways you (yes, you) can help these and many other children.

In this section, you will find the inspirational stories of many teens in central Arkansas who are going above and beyond to help out in any way they can. While a number of non-profit organizations take monetary donations, they also take donations of day-to-day items such as clothing, household items, food and more. Other organizations hold events throughout the year in which your admission fee is a donation. No matter how you choose to help, take it from the kids we’ve highlighted on the following pages, helping when and how you can is a great feeling of accomplishment.


Set the example. Children learn by watching others, a fact made clear to every parent at some point. By volunteering to help, you are not only showing your kids how to give back, but that it’s an important action anyone can do.

Giving back doesn’t have to be difficult. You may not think that dropping your change in the Ronald McDonald House Charities donation box at the McDonald’s drive-thru makes a difference, but ask the organization and they will tell you it does. You may not think that taking the time to read books to special needs children at church or school makes much of an impact, but ask any parent with a child with speech problems and they will tell you it
does. It’s important to remember even the smallest of gestures can make a big difference to someone.

Let your child decide how to give. You make think that donating boxes of clothing to a homeless shelter or giving your Christmas bonus to the fight against cancer is the most important way to make a difference. And while both gestures are very generous and undoubtedly appreciated, you child may think drawing a picture for neighbor who sits alone on her porch is important. By supporting your child’s decisions of where and how to give back, you be instilling a giving attitude that won’t soon be forgotten.

Show them how their gifts help. Your family may donate food to the Rice Depot every Thanksgiving or toys to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for Christmas gifts. Take it one step further, though, and ask the organization if you can bring your child to see the volunteers working with those donations first hand. By showing your child how his donation (not matter how small) gets from the donation box and packaged to deliver to a family in need. This will show them that no matter how small the donation, it makes a big difference to someone.