Youth United Way of Elgin is a student-led volunteer group. Formed in 1997, YUW is open to high school students who are interested in getting more involved with community service. The group consists of over 30 students from area high schools like Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin, and Bartlett--however, students from ANY high school in the area are welcome!
Students meet once a month to plan and sign up for volunteer projects and activities. Both regular volunteer and special event opportunities are available to students. Volunteer projects are done for both the United Way of Elgin as well as local non-profit agencies or city committees. Students are encouraged to sign up for whatever projects fit their availability. The group is lead by two co-presidents, who work with Youth United Way sponsor Judy Cabrera to identify and plan volunteer activities throughout the year.
One example of their regular opportunities include monthly visits to the Community Crisis Center, where they play with young children, help older children with homework, and serve as positive role models to all the kids in shelter there.
Youth United Way also conducts an annual food drive in November to benefit local pantries going into the holiday season, as well as a cookie bake to provide hundreds of cookies to soup kettles.
In 2013, Youth United Way hosted their first Dodgeball for Diapers Tournament to raise money for diapers for the women's shelter at the Community Crisis Center. This event was 100% student planned and executed. Students recruited teams and sought donations for prize baskets from local businesses.
Youth United Way participates in several local fundraisers to raise money for their projects. Each May, walkers in the Fox Trot can select YUW as their charity of choice to receive a portion of their registration fee. The students also sell concessions at one of the Movies in the Park events.
Youth United Way activities are meant to not only encourage youth to get involved in their communities but develop leadership and networking skills. The group received their first Elgin Image Award in 2013 for their service, and were recognized in 2014 as an Extra Mile Hero for the city. Each year, the group performs a combined total of over 4,000 hours of volunteer service--and they are always looking for more ways to help!
Youth United Way also helps at many special events for local non-profit agencies. They work both behind the scenes with set up and tear down and also during events as auction help, concession sales, and runners.
Here are some of the events YUW students have volunteered for:
- Green Expo
- Community Carnivals
- Volunteer Fair
- Centro de Informacion's Annual Gala
- Fiesta Salsa
- Community Crisis Center's Toy Giveaway and Annual Benefit
- Boys & Girls Club's annual auction
- PADS of Elgin's Dancing with the Stars
- Nightmare on Chicago Street
How Can I (or My Child) Get Involved?
Students interested in joining Youth United Way can come to one of their regularly scheduled meetings. For more information, parents or teens can contact Judy Cabrera, YUW Sponsor, at 847-624-7038.
My Agency Needs Volunteer Help! Who Do I Contact?
If your agency or group is in need of some reliable, hardworking volunteers, please contact Elissa Kojzarek at United Way by calling 847-741-2259. She can help determine if your project or event is appropriate for young volunteers.
YUW asks for at least one month's notice to allow time to recruit available volunteers. The more notice, the better!