Day: January 1, 2014


respectAddressing the Earth Charter’s Human Rights and Economic Justice Principles –“Be sure that everyone gets a fair share of Earth’s resources”(from The Earth Charter for Youth),

Jonathan, a 13 year old in Tampa, FL, announced his plan to create “Kits for Kids” during his Bar Mitzvah in 2007. To fulfill the Earth Charter Human Rights and Economic Justice principles and create a community service project that can be easily replicated across the world, Jonathan chose to provide children in real need within his community with basic, “back-to-school” supplies. “Kits for Kids” is directed toward helping families within the Florida Kinship Center located in Hillsborough County.

Jonathan requested that any gifts be in the form of donations to Earth Charter U.S. He and his mother then used these donations to purchase the kits (backpacks, school supplies and a disposable camera) for children in the Kinship Center. Jonathan raised more than $3,000 to launch this project. With that money he was able to assemble and help 370 families prior to the start of the 2008 school year.

The Florida Kinship Center provides support to grandparents who are raising children left in their care due to the death or inability of the children’s parents to care for them. Because they are not legal guardians, they often do not qualify for many resources in the child welfare system. These families must personally deal with both the financial burdens and responsibilities of having a new member within their household. There are approximately 23,000 children living in Hillsborough County who are living with kin, and these families are often stretched well beyond their resources.

The Florida Kinship Center was established in 1998 to respond to the needs and issues facing Kinship families. The Center’s mission is to serve kinship care families living in Florida, engage the resources of the Center in partnerships that respond to kinship care needs and issues, and conduct research that advances knowledge and understanding of kinship care. Through innovative programs, services and partnerships, the Florida Kinship Center helps support kinship caregivers, children and the entire kinship family. The Kinship Center is partly funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, an organization committed to building the necessary conditions to value and support the well-being and inherent dignity of children and their families.

In Jonathan’s own words – The ‘Kits for Kids’ Project:

Modern law teaches that punishment should be proportional to crimes. None of us think that we intentionally steal, but in fact, there are many ways that we do so by accident. I did not think of myself as being a person who stole anything. But after much thought, I learned that there are ways that I have stolen from people that I don’t know. For example, I enjoy going to parades where beads are thrown to people in the crowd. . I have learned that these beads are made in China by people who get paid less than $200 per month working in inhumane conditions. I learned that it isn’t only individuals that steal from one another. One country can also steal from another country without thinking of it as stealing. There are many incidents like this every day in all parts of the world that go unpunished, and there are no laws to punish these crimes. There are no laws preventing one country from exploiting another, but it is wrong to take advantage of people who live in those countries, and who happen to be vulnerable and less fortunate.

Although I can’t give back everything that has been stolen, I can do my part, and at the same time inspire others to do their parts as well. I chose to give back to children who have had their parents stolen from them through no fault of their own. To do this, I have set up the first micro-finance project for kids within the Earth Charter. It is called “Kits for Kids.” The concept is to collect enough funds to provide basic necessities such as backpacks, clothing and supplies, and disposable cameras to give to vulnerable kids in our community. These supplies will be given to children who have lost or been separated from their parents, and are living with their grandparents rather than in a foster home with strangers. These kids were chosen because their grand-parents do not yet qualify as legal guardians. They therefore don’t qualify for aid that other legal guardians of abandoned children receive. There are even more children all over the world who have been stripped of their basic necessities, such as food, water and clothing. Others have lost their rights, their freedom, their parents, or the love of their families.

For my project, I have chosen to help in my community through the Earth Charter. This organization is dedicated to world transformation based upon four pillars; a sustainable, global society, ecological integrity for the earth, social and economic justice, and democracy combined with non-violence and peace. I have created a model that can be replicated by kids like you throughout the world. I can’t solve all these problems by myself, but if every person just solves what ever problem is in front of them, then the world will be a more ideal place.

From this project, I’ve learned that just as a punishment is proportional to a crime, the reverse is also true. I’ve also learned that the goodness that we receive is proportional to the goodness of our actions. It is my hope that each of you will find your own way to give back to your own communities.