When the earth shook under Haiti three weeks ago, everyone rushed to help. Hollywood heavy hitters hosted a somber but powerful telethon. Music's biggest stars began mobilizing behind a "We Are the World" remake. Everybody texted to donate.
But with so much of the focus on giving money, it's only fair that one of the most dynamic forces for change gets some recognition too. As the editor of Seventeen, I've seen again and again that the drive to give back and make an impact on the world is in the DNA of this generation of girls. In my 13 years in teen magazines, I've never seen such a powerful wave of authentic activism.
And so once the texts were sent and the songs were downloaded, girls had to find their own way to feel that they were part of the huge national outreach to help Haiti. It's amazing how creative, heartfelt, and fun their initiatives have been. (Girls really do want to have fun, after all!) A college student in Athens, Georgia, hosted a five-on-five basketball tournament to raise funds. Twenty-year-old Katie from Knoxville, Tennessee, whose Facebook page says, "Make cupcakes, not war," organized a prom-dress sale called "Fierce, Fancy, Formal." Brianna, 17, of Garden Grove, California, planned a two-minute fast-and-furious fund-raiser with students racing through the school to see who could collect the most spare change. Girls across the country have written to us about penny collections, lunch-money donations, bake sales, and jeans drives. And as only teen girls know how to do, they have devoted every spare minute to the cause. One girl wrote on my blog: "My high school has raised almost $10,000 so far by selling hot chocolate and by people donating their spare change. Everyone is extremely upset, and we are doing the best we can. Everyone is being sooo generous, which is amazing. :)"
All these girls' pennies and dollars do add up. But just as important, their grassroots efforts give girls a voice and help them feel a greater sense of control in a world that they have learned can literally fall to pieces in a heartbeat.
To do our part, today Seventeen has announced that we are teaming up with our March cover girl, Lauren Conrad, to help Haiti with a donation to Doctors Without Borders.
The donation is in support of and in solidarity with the amazing girls who have given their time, energy, and heart to help heal the world.
Follow Ann Shoket on Twitter: www.twitter.com/annshoket