Marley McLaurin, 12, of Surfside Beach, South Carolina, a sixth-grader at Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success, started a service club that has raised more than $42,000 and recruited a hundred kids for over 20 service projects benefiting local and national charities over the past three years. “My mother always said, ‘If you see a need, meet a need’,” said Marley, “so I grew up looking for ways to help others.” When she realized that her schoolmates weren’t familiar with volunteering, Marley decided to form a club that could connect kids with community service opportunities in her area. But when she discovered that most charities and community groups didn’t want help from kids, Marley resolved to organize her own projects.
The first one was a food drive to stuff backpacks for kids from food-insecure households. In subsequent projects, Marley led other young people in collecting leftover Halloween candy for troops overseas, creating an anti-bullying contest and assembly for local schools, and hosting a fashion show and clothing drive to benefit children in foster care. She also has undertaken projects to raise funds for families struggling with medical bills, and to provide supplies to animal shelters. “I am determined to crush the mindset that kids are not capable of more than hosting lemonade stands, and prove that kids with big hearts can do big things” said Marley.