What is live civilly?  Years after its formal inception this is still the most frequently asked question of live civilly and its Board of Trustees.  The Answer? live civilly is a youth service organization geared toward encouraging youth to find their “inner philanthropist”.  live civilly was developed by Anna, Grace and Abby Buss because they wanted an opportunity to actively participate in serving people in their community.  In 2009 they were 9, 4 and 2 years old and service opportunities were very limited for children their age.  By 2011 they had organized multiple efforts for their friends and classmates to participate in nutritional outreach service opportunities and other community service events.  Now in 2015 live civilly and Community Service have become synonymous and in 2014 alone more than 350 service hours had been completely by local youth.

So what kind of service opportunities does live civilly offer local youth?  The Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service was the perfect way to begin 2015.  This year, the Zimmermann Sandwich Project was a huge success with more than 90 youth volunteers!  These young people were able to make 1,200 sandwiches in under an hour!  The sandwiches were then transported to Cathedral Kitchen in Camden.  The sandwich effort that had started as a Zimmermann family project in 2010 attracted the attention of friends and has grown from 100 sandwiches to 1200.

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Also on the 2015 National Day of Service, a group of young people, tied together by their mothers’ book club, decided they wanted to help their neighbors by conducting a Day of Service Food Drive.  They contacted live civilly to ask for ideas and suggestions.  These young people sent notes to neighbors and friends encouraging them to contribute to their food drive.  At the end of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service these young people had collected more than 1,000 pounds of food!  Not only did they collect the food, they organized and shelved it too!  Many of the children wrote statements about why service is important and some drew pictures.  Their desire to help their neighbors made their day of service a huge success.  Another example of people helping people helping people!

live civilly encourages young people to engage in service opportunities that benefit their communities.  Food drives and nutritional outreach opportunities through live civilly sponsored food drives through Food For All and Summer Lunch Bunch are just the beginning!  live civilly offers educational service opportunities for students of all ages through ExCELS Homework Help.  Encouraging young people to help one another through academic assistance helps improve skills and solidify concepts.  Homework Help is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Church Street Rec from 3:00-5:00 PM and Wednesdays at the Moorestown Library from 6:00-8:00 PM.  Assistance is offered on a walk-in basis to any student needing help.

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Summer offers many opportunities for service, from Maintain the Brain Summer Bridging, to Community Supported Garden Sponsors and Garden Builds.  Maintain the Brain is a summer academic program that utilizes youth volunteers to help students maintain the knowledge gained during the school year in preparation for September.  This extension of the Homework Help Program allows students to seek assistance during the summer months.  This program is also free and provided on a walk-in basis.

live civilly will re-open the Community Supported Garden plots on Camden Avenue and the live civilly/UES Partnership Garden.  Additionally, live civilly will build a garden at Mary Roberts Elementary School this spring.  Each garden location allows youth and families the opportunity to care for gardens that feed into the live civilly pantry, other local pantries and other nutritional outreach programs.

live civilly also provides a Summer Lunch Program through a partnership with the Department of Parks & Recreation to provide healthy lunches to youth in need of nutritional assistance.  This particular program is cooperative effort between live civilly, Friends Enrichment Program, MooreKids, Sean Fischel Connect and the Department of Parks & Recreation.  Providing youth with healthy and stable nutrition helps build stronger bodies and minds.  The Summer Lunch Program allows young people attending Summer Parks Program Day Camp the ability to stay and commune with friends during lunch.

Additional service opportunities have been offered through the Environmental Elf Project in December 2014.  This program gathers youth, offers them the opportunity to care for their local environment through youth based work parties.  This December, local youth gathered to clean up after the Holiday Parade.  live civilly will offer this opportunity again around the July 4th Parade as well as other local community events.  2015 also marks the beginning of the live civilly Community Service Club at the UES.  Youth are invited to create, develop and perform community service efforts with the assistance and guidance of live civilly instructors.  By being involved in every step of an active project allows young people to gain a better understanding of community service – it’s purpose and its effects.

For more information about Community Service efforts through live civilly, visit www.livecivilly.org/volunteer.  Volunteers of all ages are welcome!