by Alex Davis, Staff Writer
Americans have been labeled as insatiable, money-driven consumers. Unfortunately,
it seems we are living up to these generalizations held by our critics. We have
stood by and done nothing while epidemics have spread, genocide has occurred
and natural disasters have devastated the world at large. Instead of using our
disposable incomes to help humanity and the environment, we have squandered
it on fat-infused foods, sugar-enhanced drinks and cheap technological accessories.
Meanwhile, our resources are drying up and our future is being put at risk.
The statistics are unthinkable: More than 45 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, 95% of whom live in developing nations. HIV/AIDS has killed more than 20 million people worldwide. Additionally 3.1 million people died of AIDS-related causes in 2002. AIDS is the number one cause of death in Africa and the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide. Rainforest land used to cover 14% of the earth but now covers less than 6% and the remainder of it could be consumed in less than 40 years. World hunger kills 24,000 people every day or over 8 million each year, and, additionally, almost 100 billion pounds of safe, edible meat, poultry, fruit, vegetables, milk and eggs are thrown away yearly by vendors, restaurants, and farmers. Worldwide, more than one half million minors have been recruited into government armed forces, militia and non-state armed groups in over 85 countries. This is just a snapshot of the crises facing both America and the world.
The staggering figures of those in need and of the damage done by natural disasters
can at times overwhelm someone. Sometimes we need to take a step back from the
big picture and think locally. There are small things one can do everyday to
improve the world we are living in. Small things that (although cliché)
truly do add up to make a big difference.
With the holidays just around the corner, December is a prime month for donating your time or money. "Needy families" is a charity sponsored by each grade level in student council. The classes receive a family with 4-10 members in it who have composed a wish list to receive for Christmas. On the list items range from toothbrushes to CDs or clothes. Homeroom reps will hope to gain at least one dollar from every student. Then, with all the money received, each grade's representatives will go to buy the family's gift for the holidays. As a student you have the power to give another family a Christmas, by merely donating one dollar.
If money is tight, you can always give your time. Any student can ring the bell for the Salvation Army outside Discount Drug Mart on December 18th. All you have to do is talk to a member of HUGS, Student Council, or Key Club. Another way to donate your time is through an organization called Youth Challenge. As a volunteer, you'll help kids with physical disabilities, ranging from cerebral palsy to blindness, do activities such as baseball and rock-climbing. All that is required to become a volunteer is to attend one training session and from then on you can donate your time at the differing events that are held every year. For more information visit their website, www.youthchallengesports.com
Not only is December a great time to give, but throughout the year there are many opportunities for you to make a difference. Come May, you can give the gift of life by donating your blood at the annual blood drive that will be held here at West Geauga High School. Then, at the end of June, Courtney Cikach will be recruiting a 12-15 person team for the, "Relay For Life" event. "Relay For Life" goes on for twenty-four hours, where teams can walk or dance to the band and D.J. that will be present. In the past Cikach's team has raised close to $1500 while the county has raised a total of $50,000 for the American Cancer Society.
These are a mere five examples of fundraisers that are present everyday around you. It's time that we start owning up to the role we have in this world. We can make a difference, whether it's donating fifty cents, or giving up a Saturday. You have to make the move. Make a family's Christmas; make a better environment; make a better future.