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Sometimes good can come out of tragedy. While we all wish the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas never happened, a lot of good has come out of it. It doesn’t bring back the lives that were lost. It might bring some peace knowing that their deaths might result in something positive.

We are all well aware of the national spotlight put on gun violence in the last week. Students from Stoneman Douglas have taken the bull by the horns when it comes to gun violence activism. Politicians that once had their feet in stone regarding gun laws are softening their position and compromising to try and keep our kids safe. Major corporations that once supported or partnered with the NRA are leaving them in droves.

 

Millions Raised for March for our Lives Rallies

Another potentially positive side to this is that many corporations and wealthy celebrities are donating loads of money to the March for our Lives rallies. George Clooney donated $500,000, which has been matched by Gucci, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg (to this point). They’ve raised almost $4 million as of today to support the rallies. That is on top of almost 2 million raised through a GoFundMe set up for victims’ families. Any extra money raised for the March for our Lives rallies will be donated to victims’ families following the rallies.

 

Is there another way?

The March for our Lives rallies will raise awareness to support the effort to reduce gun violence and save the lives of children across our country. A worthy cause to be sure. My question is, “Is there another way?”

Raising awareness about the root causes of gun violence is important. There are probably a hundred ways to reduce gun violence in our country. Better gun laws is no doubt one of them.

I read an article today on Bleacher Report about a donation basketball star Kevin Durant made to his hometown schools. Durant donated $10 million dollars to College Track. College track is “a 10-year program designed to guide and support students through their education.” The goal will be to help disadvantaged kids.

Can you imagine what $10 million could do for children in those schools!? This appears to be completely separate and planned well ahead of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week. However, it got me thinking.

 

Help children before it’s too late

Better gun laws and a stronger focus on mental illness are important (the two most popular solutions right now). We also need to invest in the lives of our children. We need to invest BEFORE they have the chance to become mass shooters, dropouts, drug addicts, gang members, etc.

We need people to invest both their money and their time in the lives of our children so that they don’t have the chance to become a danger to themselves or anyone else. Often, the difference between a dangerous teen (or a teen in danger) and a safe well-rounded teen is simply education, opportunities, and people who love and care for them.

We need to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Definitely. Let’s not forget though that as a society we can also prevent most forms of violence toward others and self simply by investing in our children and guiding them to choose the right path. Give them opportunities, resources, love, and support. Help them by investing in their families. Support struggling parents so they can make ends meet and better care for their children.

 

Where can we invest in our children?

First of all, I’m fairly certain your local school district will take any and all money you want to give them as well as your time as a volunteer. There are tons of opportunities to support programs through school districts both as a volunteer and a donor. Aside from that, here are a few options for those of you in the Indianapolis area (in no particular order).

Dream Alive

Dream Alive was founded by former Colts Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman Tarik Glenn. Their mission as stated on their website is this…

DREAM Alive is a mentoring organization that exists to equip urban youth in grades 7-12 to become civic-minded leaders. We partner with schools, communities, and corporations to provide scholars with three key opportunities: Mentoring Relationships, Character Development, and Experiential Learning. Our end product is a group of young men and women of integrity and character who are confident, skilled and willing to serve their community.

Dream Alive’s Executive Director is a good friend of mine who I have known most of my life and been friends with for half of my life. They do amazing work and have had an incredible impact on the lives of teens in urban areas of Indianapolis.


Share-LT

Share-LT is a non-profit based in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. They engage students in some of their most vulnerable times…school breaks. Chances are if teens are going to make poor decisions, they are going to do it when they are unengaged and unsupervised.

Share provides activities for teens in Lawrence Township on summer and school breaks at low or no cost that are fun, safe, engaging, and enriching.

I support Share by managing their website and helping with social media and general marketing efforts.


Shepherd Community Center

Recently, the Executive Director of the Shepherd Community Center, Reverend Jay Height, spoke at my church. I was impressed with the work that they have done over the last few decades on the East Side of Indianapolis. They are well known for their work in our community.

Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty on the near Eastside of Indianapolis by engaging and empowering the community to cultivate healthy children, strong families, and vibrant neighborhoods through a Christ-centered approach that meets the physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic needs of our neighbors.

Shepherd serves the families in their community literally from birth to death and all ages in between. Their website states, “In an area where only 33% of entering freshmen graduate high school, and only 75% of those who graduate go on to college, nearly 90% of Shepherd’s seniors graduate and go on to college, job training, or the military. Many of our students are first-generation high school graduates.”


ProAct

ProAct is not an organization I am personally involved with, but it is an organization that I have been watching for several years. They have done amazing work with teens in our community. While in some ways they are similar to DREAM Alive and Share-LT, ProAct has a focus on engaging teens in community service.

Our mission is to engage youth in public service that educates, delights, and inspires the youth and those they serve.


Campus Life

Campus Life is a national organization. I worked with the local Lawrence Township Campus Life when I was a youth pastor at Castleton UMC. Chris Rickelman is a good friend and amazing youth worker. The impact he has on the lives of teens in the Lawrence Township area cannot be overstated.

YFC (Youth for Christ) reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to prayer and the Word of God, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.  Watch this video to learn more about what we do in Central Indiana.

If you are interested in supporting an organization with a stated Christian foundation this would be a great option.


 

Regardless of how you get involved, please do. Write a check or donate your time these organizations and others like them. It will have just as much, if not more impact, on saving our kids lives and giving them a future as improved gun laws.

The March for our Lives in Washington this March has the ability to drive action on gun laws. That is not the end of the discussion.  We have to work on many levels to prevent mass casualty events and gun violence as well as help our children and teens develop a positive future for themselves. These organizations help them do that.

What are some other organizations you love that impact the lives of children and teens?

Leave a comment below or on Facebook, or Twitter.

For my thoughts specific to gun violence click here.

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