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Youngsters are doing plenty to help their communities

We get frequent letters and calls from folks who say they don't often read about the good things that youngsters and youth are doing in our communities.

I beg to differ with that stereotype, and here's an example of the kind of good stuff that frequently appears in The Bee:

Warren Zimmerman, 10, is a fourth-grader at Freedom Elementary School in Modesto. He's a boy with a mission: to get people to recycle. He talked with his student council and principal about putting out recycling barrels at the school.

"They said, 'We would love to do it,' " Warren said. "It helps the environment. If you don't recycle, the environment just keeps going down.

"I was just thinking that (my classmates) might recycle, because people who recycle are good people."

Warren also enlisted the help of his dad, Robert, who promised to pick up the recycled items and take them to a recycling center.

The 10-year-old said he likes to collect trains, but "recycling inspires me now. I just want to say this: If you have stuff at your home that can be recycled, or things at school that are paper, bottles or cans, you can recycle them."

And more on youth: Locks of Love is a nonprofit group that accepts donations of hair in 10-inch lengths or longer and uses those donations to make wigs for children who don't have hair because of cancer or other diseases.

While many adults have contributed to the cause, children also catch the vision for helping others. Here are some of the latest to do so:

Natalie Sofia Solis, an 11-year-old student at Rio Altura Elementary School in Riverbank, donated 15 inches to Locks of Love. Natalie has two aunts who are breast cancer survivors.

"After looking at them with their illness, it made me realize that I'm able to help people with cancer," Natalie wrote. "I'm sending this message out to people with long hair: If you are able to cut at least 10 inches of your hair and donate it to Locks of Love, you'll make a big difference and bring a smile to someone else's life."

Kristie Young wrote a while back that her two daughters, Paetyn, 7, and Jaedyn, 5, each donated 10 inches of hair to the nonprofit program. They got their locks shorn at Great Clips in Riverbank, which gives free cuts to those donating to Locks of Love.

And Selena Hernandez, 12, of Patterson decided to donate her hair, which fell well below her waist. Selena has an aunt who died of cancer about two months ago, which prompted her good deed.

For more information about Locks of Love, including heart-touching before and after photos of children who receive the wigs, visit locksoflove.org.

And if those stories aren't enough, consider students at Hart-Ransom and Stockard-Coffee elementary schools, who contributed to penny drives to benefit Habitat for Humanity and leukemia patients.

Hart-Ransom completed its drive late last month and raised $777 for Habitat. Stockard-Coffee students began their drive last week and finish it Feb. 22. So far, they've raised about $150 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Do you have a story about someone who has helped others or is a terrific role model? Send a brief item to Sue Nowicki at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352 or e-mail snowicki@modbee.com.

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