Happy Sunday everyone!
In case you missed it, I had an exciting announcement a month ago. The Smile Project is reinstating #ServiceSunday in a big way. Each week I have been picking organizations or individuals who are making a difference in the world and telling you why you should care about them.
My first #ServiceSunday featured my dear friend Steve of Steve Barr Cartoons. If you didn’t read it then, read it now. He’s incredible. Next was an inspiration 20-year-old New Yorker named Nicole who runs a non-profit called Cubs for Coping. Read that post here. Last week, I chose to focus on Milly and her alternative social media app called Boomcast. Read that post here.
This week, I’m going to tell you about a superstar family from North Carolina intent on helping young people get involved with service. They aim to show kids how they can use their passion to better the world around them. In short, they are starting a snowball. And with that bad play-on-name joke, allow me to introduce you to Mac Winslow and Start a Snowball.
Organization: Start a Snowball
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion: give me a “Happiness is!”
Mac: Happiness is.. seeing people humbly take care of those in need around them.
Liz: Tell me a little bit about your organization
Mac: We aspire to encourage kids to engage in their own community service and philanthropic opportunities. We provide seed grants for these projects and then publish what they’ve done to inspire other kids to do the same. This is all in hopes of building a generation of givers so that when they became adults they’ll take care of the world around them.
Liz: How did you guys get started?
Mac: We were inspired to get started after we saw the success of our son, William’s, project when he was 7. He did a food drive to fight childhood hunger in our area. He was outrageously successful and each year has grown it even more. We saw it and wondered what kind of impact people could have if they had the resources and the inspiration.
(Let it also be noted that William is 10 years old now and in the process of organizing his fourth food drive. It will take place on April 16, 2016. Last year, they collected 14,000 pounds of food and $11,000 in one day).
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Mac: Really it’s just trying to change the paradigm that a lot of kids have as far as what's important. We want to see people care about the world around them.
Liz: What does “service” mean to you?
Mac: Working to fix a problem that is obvious and that is there and that matters to you as well. Everyone has an area of service that speaks to them more than another area. Almost as important as helping other people is doing it in an area that speaks to you so you continue to work hard at it.
Liz: How can people get involved?
Mac: There are a number of ways to support Start a Snowball.
Let’s start with the youngins. Kids can apply for grant and take on their own project. The only requirements are that the “kids” must be grades K-12 and the project must simply aim to do good. It can’t be political or encourage discrimination in any way. In the past, grants have been given for everything from clothing drives and book drives to lemonade stands and selling homemade jewelry. There are so many ways that kids can help out and that’s what’s really cool. It allows them to be really creative and come up with their own unique ideas.
Don’t worry if you’re too old to apply. You can always share the mission of Start a Snowball with a younger cousin or a school district who might want to encourage their outstanding students to apply. And of course, make sure to talk about it on social media. The more people that are aware of this awesome org the better. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and of course the website.
If you don’t frequent social media, another way to get involved is by volunteering. There are a couple ways to do this. A bulk of Start a Snowball volunteers are writers who cover the stories of the grantees. Other ways to volunteer include setting up fundraising drives to collect money for Start a Snowball. This allows grants to keep flowing and the snowball to keep rolling. To make a donation now, click here.
Liz: Do you have a favorite quote?
Mac: My favorite quote...this was in an interview that they were doing about my son, who was seven at the time. The reporter asked him why he did the food drive. He responded with:
“If you see somebody that needs help or something that needs to be done you have two choices. You can do nothing or you can choose to help. And I choose to help.”
This concludes my fourth #ServiceSunday. Thanks for allowing me to share another impactful organization with you. It should be noted that as of a couple weeks ago, Start a Snowball has seeded 200 grants in 40 states and Washington D.C. If you have some spare time this Sunday, spend some time exploring all the amazing projects they have funded and think of your own ways that you can take your passions and turn them into campaigns for goodness. You are never too young or too old to make a difference.
As for me, I’ll see you next Sunday as I highlight another phenomenal example of humankind.
Looking to nominate an individual or organization that you know? Reach out to The Smile Project on social media or by filling out the contact form here.