Caring Strangers was formed in 1999 as a legacy project of Leadership Santa Rosa Class 16. From the outset, this dedicated group of volunteers pursued a mission of helping underserved kids in Sonoma County fit in at school, thereby improving their chances to succeed. It started as a project to provide needed clothing items directly to various organizations, but soon morphed into two annual projects: providing backpacks and school supplies in August and new warm coats and shoes in October to children in need.
Through community donations and thanks to the support and fiscal management of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber’s 501(c)(3), New Vision Santa Rosa Foundation, hundreds of caring people in our community made tax-deductible donations to these projects. To date, 2,953 backpacks and 1,654 coats have been provided to the Family Support Center, YWCA of Sonoma County, COTS, The Living Room, Valley of the Moon, Becoming Independent and Social Advocates for Youth, as well as numerous other organizations that are no longer providing services or have been absorbed by other organizations. For 19 years, these projects have reliably provided for kids in our community.
But time brings change, and in this case, exciting change for the legacy of Caring Strangers.
The torch is being passed to Chop’s Teen Club. The teens at Chop’s will decide what happens next and, utilizing the funds provided by Caring Strangers, they will choose how they can help other kids in our community. “Teens Helping Kids” is the new incarnation of Caring Strangers.
As explained by Chop’s Teen Club Executive Director, Lorez Bailey:
“This new program will help teens develop leadership skills through the design and execution of service projects that benefit other Sonoma County youth. Community service can have a lot of positive effects on students, such as helping them to develop skills, making contacts, and allowing them to improve the quality of life of others. Research has shown that young people are more likely to volunteer when engaged through schools and youth organizations. Teens are uniquely suited to solve problems. Service learning leads to increased academic engagement and success. Additionally, it improves career and workforce readiness. Community service is a gateway asset that can lead to increased positive youth development outcomes.”
Under the guidance of Chop’s Teen Club coordinators and management, new ideas will emerge to answer current challenges facing kids in our community. Watch for what happens next under the care and imagination of our youth at the Chops Teen Club!
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