Standing Up for the Hungry

I’ve been in BBYO since I was in the eighth grade and have attended the Northern Region East’s Regional Convention, which brings teens together from Baltimore, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., for five years.

This year’s regional convention was by far my favorite. The major distinction from years past was our day of service. In previous years, teens split up to work on different service projects in and out of the hotel; this year each group had the opportunity to focus on the same project, a canned food drive for the hungry.

Our service project took us to local grocery stores to collect donations for the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington. My group, which consisted of seven chapters from Northern Region East, collected 115 food items and $60 worth of donations in just an hour. As a whole, the region collected more than 4,000 food items.

The teens of NRE did an outstanding job collecting items to benefit food-insecure families throughout
the D.C.-metro area. I was inspired by the accomplishments of the teens and staff but even more so by what I witnessed during the project. While we were collecting donations, a woman checking out at the register told us to take all the cans coming down the belt. There must have been about 50. She then handed us her leftover cash and told us to keep it.

The woman explained that she had walked to the store just to buy some gum for her grandchildren but had forgotten her wallet. When she saw us, she voiced the wish that she hadn’t left her wallet at home, because she wanted to donate to the cause. Another woman, who overheard her, handed the grandmother $40. Complete strangers helped each other out, demonstrating that doing good deeds can bring people together.

The experience showed me that doing small random acts of kindness can go a long way. It also showed that there are good people in this world willing to help others in need. I returned home from the regional convention feeling more passionate about service than ever before, and I plan to put that passion to action in the very near future.

BBYO has allowed me to make an impact in the community throughout my school years, and it will leave a lasting impact on me for the rest of my life. Thanks to BBYO, I will continue to be involved in service, making a difference in my community for many years to come.

Josh Cohen is a senior at Franklin High School and a BBYO member from Patuxent AZA in the Northern Region East-Baltimore Council. He serves as chapter president. To learn more about BBYO, contact Baltimore Council program director Danielle Hercenberg at 410-559-3549 or

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