On Friday night, I stood with a group of my friends in the University of South Florida gym wearing bright green shirts that said “Dance Marathon: The Party with a Cause.” We were participating in Dance Marathon, a nation-wide event that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network, and were two hours into the twelve hour event when a small girl stepped onto the stage. Few people stopped what they were doing to listen to the girl’s mother speak in broken English about her daughter’s nearly-fatal condition, but when the 5-year-old survivor took the mic and started singing “Only Hope”, the entire room fell powerfully silent. No one moved, no one spoke, and little Katie sang to each of us with so much emotion and gratitude that we understood why we were spending our Friday night raising money for children like her.
At the end of the twelve hours, the directors of the event (all Gen Yers) announced that we had raised over $17,000 for All Children’s Hospital here in Tampa. Five hundred college kids. Members of Generation Y. Giving back to the community and being selfless.
Then, last night, my Greek organization planned a campus-wide event to raise money for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA) and its local affiliates. This week, we will be writing PCA a check for over $18,000 and donating a wide array of blankets, clothes, and school supplies to these organizations. $18,000 dollars…!
Right now, I am very proud of my peers and excited to be a part of a generation that expects citizens to volunteer and be active in social causes.
Gen Y may be getting a lot of bad press lately, but my experience is that we are quickly shattering these stereotypes. We may be ambitious, but our hard work isn’t all self-serving. While I can’t generalize, I can say that based on my experiences, Gen Y is committed to doing good and actively participating in community service events.
For those of you who don’t think this is true, I challenge you to do research on the number of philanthropic events that take place each year on college campuses around the world. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.