Volunteer opportunities abound for Craig youths

Nearly 50 Boys & Girls Club of Craig members will be cleaning up trash Friday at City Park to celebrate National Youth Service Awareness Week. Another group will do some work at the Northwest Colorado Dental Care office.

"We're instilling the value of service," BGCC Director Jonathan Godes said. "They're learning that service is its own reward."

BGCC Program Director Rob Winn said he hopes children get a lot from the experience.

"I truly hope -- at minimum -- that kids get a value of what litter is and what it takes to get rid of it," he said. "My real hope is that they can see that they can make a positive change in their community."

Winn said organized activities aren't the only places where BGCC demonstrates its willingness to help.

"I think we underestimate how much kids love to give," he said. "I want to keep that alive in them."

United Way Director Corrie Scott has had similar experiences, instilling in her the belief that service-oriented youths aren't a dying breed.

"I think youth are becoming more and more aware as non-profits encourage them to participate," Scott said.

It helps, too, she said, that opportunities to volunteer are so varied and can cater to a youth's skills or career choices.

"Volunteering isn't just emptying bed pans anymore," she said. "It's more about being involved in an activity they can contribute to and enjoy."

Youth volunteers in Craig include coaches, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, and youths working with people with disabilities or preschool children.

Scott works with youths in Youth United Way and co-sponsors with teacher Cindy Morris the El Pomar Youth in Community Service group.

"I feel it's very, very important for the youths in our community to understand what volunteerism is and how giving back to the community feels," Morris said.

Morris is also the Moffat County High School Key Club adviser. She's found that incentives -- such as offering letterman's jacket letters -- induce youths to volunteer.

"I want them to learn when you do this, you give of your heart," she said. "I want them to learn to internalize the feeling."

Key Club has 50 members, about half of whom are active.

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