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Teen Article: A Lesson in Giving


SLFCU Teen Makes a Difference in Her Community

Pictured: SLFCU Teen Member Sarah Weber

Teen member Sarah WeberI turned 17 two weeks ago. Amid the celebration, and the sugar high, I received a total of $225 from myriad family members.

As a teenage girl, I can appreciate the needs of my demographic: a quick trip to the mall for a tube of mascara and an outfit can quickly run upwards of $100, not to mention expenditures for concerts, social engagements, and school dances. I deposited the money into my savings account and quickly began musing the various ways in which I could spend it, along with the remainder of the money I had left over from a summer job. With such a substantial monetary gift, I could easily alleviate the pressures of purchasing everyday necessities, like gas to drive to school, and treat myself to a well-deserved shopping spree.

That was when I received an email. It was from an organization that I worked with over the summer, Saranam, which provides housing, job training, and stability for homeless families.

For a school project, I had gathered a group of friends to participate in decorating one of Saranam’s apartments over the course of a week, which would soon be inhabited by a previously homeless family. It was an incredible experience to work alongside dedicated volunteers and passionate students alike.

The email had a simple subject line: “500 for $500!” Intrigued, I clicked on the email. It detailed a mission the coordinators of Saranam have undertaken: to have 500 partners donate at least $500 each, raising a total of $250,000, enough to support 10 families for an entire year.

I immediately thought of the $225 that I had recently been given. Yes, I had been looking forward to spending an afternoon at the mall. Yes, it would be a well-deserved birthday treat and a celebration of a successful 16th year. But I could also remember that soaring feeling every time I volunteered, and that little jolt of happiness that enveloped me when I looked back at that finished apartment with pride and the knowledge that someone would be living in their very own home, maybe for the first time in their lives, and that I had been a part of that.

I made a decision: I would become one of those 500 donors. With frugal spending, a little luck, and a little less Starbucks, I will have saved $500 by May, storing it in a special second savings account that I set up.

In donating this money, I will be joining the 67% of Americans* who donate a portion of their income to charity every year. More importantly, however, I will be making a tangible difference in our New Mexico community, and I’ll be able to know that someone’s life is improving, all thanks to a little birthday cash. 

*Source: Philanthropy Roundtable. “Statistics on U.S. Generosity.” The Almanac of American Philanthropy | The Philanthropy Roundtable, 2018,

Teens Can Get $100

SLFCU members age 13-17 are invited to submit an article on a financial topic to be considered for publication in our Dollars & Sense newsletter and on our website. SLFCU will award teens $100 for published articles. Click here for details and to submit an article. SLFCU will review all submissions and respond within 30 days.

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