(Machias–) The Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) students at Machias Memorial High School awarded a $1000 grant to the Community Christmas Giving Tree as part of the statewide Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY) student philanthropy program. The students immediately helped the charity spend the money, taking advantage of winter clearance deals to stock up for donations that the Giving Tree will make during the next holiday season.
Machias Memorial High School senior, Crysta Bourque, joined her classmates on the Christmas shopping spree. Seeking to maximize the impact of the grant, they decided to help the community volunteers spend the money right away. “We shopped for kids of all ages that are served by the Community Giving Tree,” said Crysta.“We found boots for under $7 and hats for 50 cents. Our grant money went so much further than it would next fall or winter.”
For five years, through the Jumpstart Our Youth program, JMG students at more than 60 Maine schools have been learning how philanthropy works in local communities and how to make smart grants that support youth and families in the state. They complement the grantmaking with volunteering, putting in about 4000 hours of “sweat equity” each school year. To date, students have contributed nearly $250,000 to Maine nonprofits through the JOY program which is entirely driven by student interests.
JOY was founded by the Unity Foundation in Unity, Maine to carry on the vision of its founder, the late Unity businessman Bert Clifford.JOY is also funded by Maine Community Foundation and UniTel, Inc.
“The students were the ones that hurried us into the store to shop because they knew the deals were there,” said Machias JMG Specialist, Jeff Chick.“The Giving Tree volunteers were happy to have the input of teens in shopping for next year as that is a tough crowd to please, and I estimate that our $1000 grant went about three times further in purchasing coats, boots, hats and mittens.”
Mangers at the Calais Walmart generously offered an additional 10% discount on items purchased for the Christmas Giving Tree.
Last year, 3,755 JMG students from St. John Valley to North Berwick participated in the JOY program.They received 218 online grant applications totaling $96,440 in funding requests and contributed $63,000 through 97 grants in addition to $5,350 raised independently by the students. As a group, the students logged 4,025 hours in community volunteer time.