Tonawanda News

October 25, 2012

KEPPELER: From volunteerism to higher education, heed the good deeds today's kids do.

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

— They’re an easy target.

They’ve grown up in a time when many of the things they consider an everyday part of life is something their much-older counterparts still look askance at, where they’re constantly linked to their friends by a net of technology, where the obligatory phone call to out-of-state relatives has been replaced by Skype ... and no one considers it something out of “Star Trek” at this point. (And if they do, Chris Pine, and not William Shatner, is the applicable Capt. Kirk.)

I’m writing, of course, about teenagers. 

Of course, all this makes them absolutely no different than their predecessors, whether today’s 20-somethings, or my generation, their parents’ generation (closer to my generation than I care to admit) or even their grandparents’ generation, as far as it goes. “Kids these days” have always been an easy target, whether they’re listening to iPods or record players, wearing skinny jeans or bell-bottoms.

There are still too many people out there (or in Sound Off in this newspaper for that matter) who are all too willing to consider them far-too-attached to their technology (as if many adults aren’t the same), ill-schooled, dishonest, poor citizens, uninterested in their elders and, perhaps above all, lazy and unmotivated. And like just about any stereotype, of course, it’s generally not true. 

Witness the flier that recently crossed my desk.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 3, Tonawanda High School’s College Success class will hold a Rake-A-Thon to help out any residents who are unable to rake their own leaves, or who would like some assistance doing so. Those interested can call 694-7660, ext. 2304, and leave a message with their name, phone number and address, and someone will get back to them about the request.

No strings attached, no purchase necessary, no thanks needed (although always appreciated). Just a little bit of help for people who need it.

Zachary El-Sharis, a senior at Tonawanda High School, returned my call to chat for a few minutes about the Rake-A-Thon. 

“It’s just to help the City of Tonawanda,” he said, “to help the seniors rake their yards and backyards as the case may be. We had a good turnout last year ... we just want to help the seniors in the community.”

This is the second year El-Sharis has been involved in the event, which he helped organize in 2011 for the school’s leadership club. 

“It’s been going on a few years,” teacher Robin D’Amato said of the Rake-A-Thon, which was first a function of the Student Council. “This year due to budget cuts, our leadership club was lost.

“He said, ‘I still want to do that.’ I said that maybe we can do it as a class activity.”

Last year, the group of students raked at about 15 houses around the city — then wound up going out again after a number of last-minute calls came through. D’Amato asks that those requesting assistance with raking call by 3 p.m. Nov. 2 so that the group can do its best to fit them in.

In return, they get not only another activity to list for volunteerism in their college-prep plans — which is how the group is linking the event to its curriculum — but the gratitude of those they’re helped.

“They gave us cookies, they brought us out sodas, one man tried to give us money,” D’Amato said of last year’s Rake-A-Thon. “One little old lady, she came out with a plate of hot chocolate chip cookies. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting.”

Yes, kids these days ... they’re no good at all.



FOR HELP The Rake-A-Thon will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 3. Residents interested in getting help raking their yards can call 694-7660, ext. 2304, and leave a message with their name, phone number and address.


Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at