On April 26, the LaGrange County Community Foundation (LCCF) Youth Philanthropy Pod LIFE (LaGrange Independent Foundation for Endowments) hosted an all-day educational event, including lunch at Lakeland High School, for students from the four local high schools. The program was called LEAP (Leaders Excited About Philanthropy). Over 50 students from Lakeland, Westview, Prairie Heights and Howe School attended. Each had the opportunity to interact with and learn from over a dozen local non-profit and educational organizations.
During the action-packed day, students heard informative presentations about local community service groups and foundations including an in-depth and highly-participative workshop by Jenna Ott from Dekko Foundation. Participants also engaged in numerous educational exercises designed to encourage the value of philanthropic action in their community. Each also participated in up to three of four community service projects. Those service projects included hand-assembling first aid mini-kits and other materials for the LaGrange chapter of the American Red Cross, filling school backpacks with school supplies for the United Fund of LaGrange County Pack-A-Backpack program, packing toys, workbooks and personal letters of support into “Operation Military Kids” gift bags for distribution to the children of LaGrange County servicemen and women, and hosting a bingo session for residents at the Life Care Center across the street from Lakeland School.
Besides the organizations already mentioned, also invited by LIFE and participating in the LEAP educational effort were the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation, Community Action of Northeast Indiana, Purdue Extension representing 4-H Junior Leaders, LCCF, PCs for Youth, Elijah Haven, Ark Animal Sanctuary, Campus Life, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity, FFA, and Reason 4 Hope.
LIFE is composed of 20 volunteer students in grades 8 through 12, along with volunteer adult mentors or guides from each of LaGrange County’s four public and private schools. An adult navigator from the staff of the LCCF coordinates the meeting and community service activities of the pod. Additional LCCF staff members and its board of directors provide guidance and technical support for the LIFE grants and scholarship programs. LIFE activities are generously supported through a grant by the Dekko Foundation.