Youths “DoSomething” to make social impact

Members of the Awesome DoSomething Club are not waiting until they grow up to start making a positive impact on the world around them, both near and far. Club members, pictured above, Jake Jaillet, Daniel Tallman, Joey Bevilacqua, Ethan Woodfill and Sarah Bett volunteer for projects benfitting their home town, homeless people, the hungry, and animals, to name a few.

Fifty years ago, the Brit rock band The Who released "The Kids Are Alright," a song that went on to become one of the most misunderstood in all of rock history. Skip over the song and just take the title and apply it to a group of local kids who are in no danger of being misunderstood. It's the Avonworth area (Awesome) DoSomething Club, a social action club designed to get teens involved in humanitarian causes in the community.

DoSomething formed in New York in 1999, with the Ben Avon affiliation organized in 2013. Ethan Woodfill serves as president and Sarah Bett as vice president, with about 25 others, mostly in grades 8-10, involved.

Both are high school sophomores, Ethan at Avonworth and Sarah at Lincoln Park School for the Performing Arts.

"The club used to have more structure to it, but it has shifted to an organization in which anyone can be involved, with no commitment to meetings. Just show up at events and be committed to the causes," Ethan said.

Members meet at a Ben Avon coffee shop or at the pavilion in Avon Park, or on-line via social media, which, Ethan explained, plays a vital role in their communication. "We use social media all the time to get out information -- Facebook to talk of upcoming events, Instagram to post pictures after events, and Twitter to keep people posted on ongoing events."

Events such as clean-up days throughout Ben Avon several times a year, where they set off sections of the community, including the park and the walking trail, and tree planting in the borough.

They also have helped with problems of the homeless. "For the past two years, we've collected over 300 pairs of jeans for kids in shelters," Sarah said.

They organized the "peanut butter and jam slam," a food drive held two years in a row, where members collected mostly peanut butter and jelly. "We collected over 300 jars through the two drives, with proceeds going to North Hills Community Outreach We also grouped up to clean the North Hills Food Pantry in Bellevue at the AGH Suburban Campus," Ethan said.

One of the group's big activities, "Pie Your Favorite Teacher" will once again be a highlight at next week's Ben Avon Fall Festival. Last year, four Avonworth teachers volunteered for the honor of being "pied," with more than $300 raised through auctions, with the highest bidders winning the opportunity to heave the whipped cream pies. Proceeds were donated to ALS Foundation. So far, three teachers have accepted the challenge for this year's charity auction.

"In past years, we also sold homemade dog treats," Sarah said. "We made about $150 to donate to the Humane Society."

But what motivated these somewhat random acts of kindness?

Ethan explains that his involvement started when he saw all of the social issues being reported in the news. "I heard of DoSomething while searching on-line for volunteer opportunities when I was about 11. I loved what they stood for, easy and fun action, and to this day they are my favorite organization. It is just a good way to help."

Sarah said that she always has been involved with volunteering and social action. "I'm a member of Girl Scouts and youth groups. I'm on the youth board of social action at Temple Sinai in Mt. Lebanon, and am a member of the humanitarian club at Lincoln Park."

Sarah said that several parents are involved with the club, especially helping out with transportation, as most members are too young to drive.

Toyota, along with Google, H & M clothing retailers, and Aeropostale are among sponsors who donate money for DoSomething activities, with both Sarah and Ethan the recipients of grants that have been used to fund local projects.

All of this activity might be serving as a preview to their futures.

Ethan, the son of Adam and Dawn Woodfill, would like to study environmental science at the college level. Sarah, the daughter of Jennifer and Michael Bett, looks forward to college -- perhaps studying communications, followed by volunteering for the Peace Corps. All reside in Ben Avon.

To follow along or learn more, e-mail awesomed, or visit http://awesomedosome, find them on Facebook or follow @AwesomeDSClub on Twitter.

It won't take long to realize that, indeed, these kids are alright!