Piece by piece, we’ve been building the Leelanau Investing for Teens program with the help of supporters, volunteers, and dedicated staff. Throughout the years, we’ve thrown countless events for the surrounding community and teens, but one event, in particular, brings us unbridled joy. Not only because of the heart-melting interactions between volunteers and youth but because, even after nearly a decade of working with teens, they still take us by surprise and teach us valuable lessons. The LIFT teens constantly show us the power of giving back and what it truly means to choose others over yourself.
The event is the Makers Market. What began as a sponsorship from the local hospital in LIFT’s early years to buy presents for our teens has transformed into a beautiful afternoon of reciprocity, gratitude, and kindness.
A fear years ago, a local community member donated blank ceramic and wood figurines and some beaded earrings. Although we had gifts for the students, as usual, that year, the teens were only interested in making gifts for their family and friends. They chose to give to others rather than receive something for themselves. We make it a part of our mission to teach our students to be kind leaders, and we feel this is a perfect example of this in action. It's the real-life ending of How the Grinch Stole Christmas on display.
It would be easy to assume that the younger generations are self-centered and would instead take a gift for themselves rather than spend the time and energy making a gift for a loved one. Still, it turns out that when teens are given a purpose and reason to exist during the holiday season, they instantly light up like a strand of holiday lights.
"Teens never cease to amaze us. Every time we think we know what to expect from them, they teach us something new. In the example of the Holiday Makers Market, the teens reminded us that the holidays are a time for giving and showing appreciation for the people in our life." - Associate Director, Audrey.
It almost becomes a game about how many stations can be visited and how many gits can be made for the people in their lives. Once given this opportunity to give back, they are immediately excited to show the people they love how much they care through handmade gifts.
Don’t just take our word for it; here is what some of our teens had to say about it afterward.
“It was super fun and creative! It was fun to build the birdhouse.”
“Really really fun I want to do it again. You got to be with your friends and build stuff!”
Our Middle School Program Director also had a few thoughts after the fact: “I loved getting to serve our students as they came in to craft gifts for their friends and family. The best part was watching different generations come together to make it happen - a span of volunteers connecting with all of the middle school students at Suttons Bay, creating and discovering together in order to bring light to different people in the community. What a way to kick off the holidays!”
LIFT is the only afterschool program for 6th through 12th graders in Leelanau County that is completely free for teens and their families. That is possible thanks to our community's investment in our youth.
A generous LIFT donor has given a $10,000 matching gift in support of our teens this holiday season. For every $1 you donate to LIFT through the end of the year, another $1 will be given to match it.
Give today to continue to provide Leelanau County teens with unique opportunities like the Holiday Makers Market >> https://secure.givelively.org/donate/friendship-community-center-inc/empower-leelanau-county-teens