By RENI CALISTER and DANIELLE GENET, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Fifteen-year-old Michael Platt has been hard at work during the pandemic, donating thousands of “snack packs” — healthy, shelf-stable items — to local food pantries to help other kids in need.
“Kids are no longer in school. So they are not getting the two meals that they would have gotten from school,” Platt told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I definitely have been upping my Snack Pack giveaways, and very important what we’re doing, and very important what the food pantries are doing.”
Michael has been passionate about raising awareness for ending hunger for as long as he can remember, and with the pandemic, he realized there was an even greater need, especially for children.
“COVID has had a really really big impact on childhood food insecurity, before it was one in seven kids who might be food insecure, now it’s one in four kids who might be food insecure,” he said.
Michael is no stranger to giving back. He’s the owner of Michael’s Desserts — a one-for-one company — where every dessert sold buys a dessert for someone in need.
Leading up to the National Day of Giving, Michael’s been using his platform to promote kindness by encouraging children to take part in “12 Tuesdays of Giving” through GivingTuesdaySpark, a youth-founded and youth-led global generosity movement.
Good Morning America celebrated Michael’s charity work and recognizes the work done by other inspiring kids doing their part across the country. These kids each found purpose through their own charitable projects and remind us of the gift of giving. Here they share why they give, in their own words:
Michael Platt, 15, of Michael’s Desserts
Tell us about your project: My project is packing snack packs for kids who are experiencing food insecurity. A snack pack is a small portable bag of things like protein bars, almonds, jerky, breakfast bars and water enhancer that a kid can have with them to carry them over from meal to meal. I supply these to food pantries so that kids can have them at home when they need them.
Why is it important for you to give back? It’s important to give back because there are problems in the world that need to be solved. When you do everything that you can to solve a problem, make your community better and another person does the same, then we can solve big problems.
What’s your message to inspire others? Doing everything you can doesn’t mean what you’re doing is large in scale but being large in scale is not the point. The point is to do everything that you can. If we all do everything we can, then we’re taking care of the people around us and making the world an even better place.
Chelsea Phair, 11 of Chelsea’s Charity
Tell us about your project: I always wanted to help others, since I was like 5 years old & especially after I saw my parents helping others, but they always told me I was too young. So I decided that I would start my own charity where it didn’t matter how old you are and I decided to start Chelsea’s Charity on my 10th birthday last year. In lieu of birthday presents, I asked my friends to bring art supplies to my party so that I could add it to the supplies I was buying and make art kits for kids in shelters and foster care homes because I know how hard it is to get access to art supplies. I remember how much art has helped me through some tough times in my life and I just wanted other kids to have art so that they could help them heal, or communicate when they can’t or just express themselves because I believe that ART IS A START to everything.
Why is it important for you to give back? It’s so important for me to give back to others because I believe we all want to know that there is someone else out there thinking about us. Unfortunately, I also know that everyone doesn’t always have access to things and that makes me want to work harder to get it to them. Especially art because I really believe that art heals. It makes me feel good knowing that me or my friends or my family were able to help someone else get access to art because we all could use a little boost in our lives sometimes.
What’s your message to inspire others? My message to inspire others is to always think about how we can help with a need that is in the world, like I learned there is a need for more access to art in the world, so I am always working hard to fill that need. Find out a need or a problem that exists and then think about how you can help fix the problem. And remember that it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how well you can move around, we can all pitch in and help each other out in some way. If we all give a hand, you know, everything won’t feel so heavy. 🙂 Love Chelsea
CJ Matthews, 13 of Blankets 4 My Buddies
Tell us about your project: My Giving Tuesday project goal is to collect 1,000 blankets to donate to local kids who need an extra dose of comfort; kids who might be experiencing traumatic situations like illness, homelessness, loneliness, loss, etc. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would love to put the blankets in bags, and recreate my Giving Tuesday NOW comfort bags concept. Comfort bags include a variety of books, gloves, toys, stress balls and fidget toys, personal hygiene products, healthy snacks, and of course, blankets. Since many are still, or going back to sheltering in place, comfort bags are a great way to help kids to keep sane, fight boredom and find comfort.
Why is it important for you to give back? Giving back is important to me because I started doing it in honor of my little sister, Karsen Angelica. When I was 5, my mom experienced a pregnancy loss and I took it hard. My parents created the Blankies 4 My Buddies project to help me cope with losing Karsen. Now it’s like second nature. It makes me feel good to make others smile, and it’s extra special because I know my little sister is proud of me. When Karsen didn’t come home from the hospital, I can’t even explain how I felt. I told my mom I never wanted another kid to experience that type of grief. Giving blankets to kids gives them a sense of security, a feeling of comfort. That’s why I do it.
What’s your message to inspire others? My message is that it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, or your kind act is. One small act of kindness is a step toward changing the world. My favorite quote right now is “be the change.” Don’t complain about anything. Be the change you want to see. Kindness has not been canceled, so go out and spread some love. The world needs it now more than ever!
Sammie Vance, 12, of Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project
Tell us about your project: When I was eight years old I started Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project after hearing about a buddy bench. A buddy bench is a place for when someone is lonely, they can sit on the bench and another person can come up to them and ask them to play. I knew my school needed them. I made a comic explaining the concept and asked my community to collect plastic caps that would be recycled into the benches for my school. My mom helped me find a company that did this. I liked we could help save the environment and friendships all in one. I ended up getting enough plastic caps (1,200 lbs) for three benches in two months with caps left over to help other schools. Since then I have been able to help over 150 groups all over the country get buddy benches. I love helping others. I am 12 now and I am still collecting caps for others and speaking to groups about how to do the project in their location. Spreading Kindness one cap at a time.
Why is it important for you to give back? I think it is important to give back because you never know what someone is going through and it will just make them happy! It will make them happy and seeing them happy, it will make you happy! I also think that kindness and giving is contagious because, if you make someone happy, they will want to make others happy as well.
What’s your message to inspire others? Something I like to say is “You don’t just have to be an adult to make a difference, you can be a kid too!” It all starts with you. One small thing can make a big difference.
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