There are many creative and inexpensive ways that young people can help others this summer.
Summer is also a time when charities need extra help.
Many young people across the country have helped support communities along the Gulf coast by raising money, sending clothing and toys, and even providing prom dresses for other high school students.
There are many corporations that have easy programs to help young people begin charitable projects, whether it's helping Katrina victims or other people in need.
Kids can get free lemonade-stand kits from the Sunkist Co.'s "Take a Stand" program. This fun program encourages kids to sell glasses of their homemade drinks to raise money for a charity of their choice.
Kids ages 7 to 12 can register at www.sunkist.com and submit their "Take a Stand" pledge to receive a free Sunkist lemonade stand, while supplies last.
Last year, Sunkist gave out more than 2,000 free lemonade stands to children. When children across the country saw the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf states, they used the program to raise funds for Katrina relief efforts.
Throughout the year, the "Take a Stand" participants reported raising an estimated $400,000 for hundreds of charities throughout the country.
Some companies reward youth volunteers through contests, such as the makers of Angel Soft bath tissue with their program called "Angels in Action."
Children and teens, ages 8 to 18, will be recognized and rewarded for executing exemplary acts of service to benefit their community, a charity or cause. Get great ideas for creative projects by reading about last year's winners on the Angel Soft site.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2006 program. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 1, 2006. Learn more at www.angelsoft.com.
Students can also take on simple volunteer projects by recognizing what their community needs.
For example, if there is a lot of trash along a nearby road, students can have a "cleanup day" and enlist friends to help pick up trash for a few hours. Students can read to residents at a local senior center or even to children at a day-care center.
To find out what specific needs are in your community, visit www.volunteermatch.org, enter your zip code, and select a project that fits your student's age group and ability.
It is easy to help local hunger organizations at a very low cost by donating coupon bargains.
Students can use the Grocery Deals by State page on The Savings Mom Web site, www.savingsmom.com, which lists grocery coupon deals in most states.
The site has deal lists for national stores like Walgreens and CVS, which have many good charity deals each week. Some items are even free with a coupon.
Keep a box in your house or garage for each week's bargains, and deliver it to the charity when it's full. Middle school and high school students can use the system on their own.
They can clip coupons, make a shopping list, and may even be able to drive to the store and charity on their own.
For just a few dollars, a student could buy several items for charity with coupons. I recently bought six bottles of dishwashing liquid for $3, a savings of $6.60 off the regular price. Every household needs this item, and a student could help six families for about the price of an ice cream cone.