They’re too young to vote and barely old enough to drive. But that’s not stopping Max and Jake Klein from having their say in the well-being of the country they love.
They’re the Kids That Do Good, and they’re opening doors for others to do the same.
They were just toddlers when their parents introduced them to the concept of selflessness. Ever since they can remember, they Klein brothers have used their birthdays to raise funds for charities in lieu of receiving birthday presents.
By the time they were eight years old, Jake and Max were hooked on helping. They eagerly accompanied a family friend as he cooked for the homeless. Ready to help, they asked if they could serve the food he’d prepared, only to discover they weren’t old enough to do so.
“It didn’t feel nice,” they remember, “to be turned down to help. We didn’t want other kids to feel that way.”
The brothers returned home, mildly discouraged but also motivated to find a way around those rules. It didn’t take them long to figure it out.
Edgewater NJ is directly across the Ground Zero in Manhattan. Although they are too young to remember what happened on 9/11, its impact is something they have always been aware of. They learned more about that day as they got older. Eventually they realized the full ramifications and decided to do their part to respond.
They then raised enough money to donate new equipment to a local firefighter company that had responded to the attacks. They then followed up by donating the Jaws of Life to a local paramedic company.
One charitable act followed another. They were giving back in their own way and feeling great about it. Still, they knew there are other kids like them who want to help. They realized the importance of cultivating a charitable mindset and the value of nurturing that mindset at a young age. They wanted to help other kids find their own outlets to give back. They had an idea how to make that happen, and they went with it.
With the support of their parents and other adults, Jake and Max Klein created and launched Kids That Do Good.
The mission of their organization is simple: To connect kids with ways to give back.
The website manages to be both interactive and simple to use. From a young child to internet-challenged parents, anyone can hop on and find a personal outlet to give back. Parents are encouraged to help young children organize walks, donate birthdays, and open lemonade stands.
Searches allow users to enter ages, interest, and locations, revealing ideal volunteer opportunities for any child. This alone would be impressive, but the Kleins took it a step further.
Thanks to Max and Jake, teachers from elementary through high school have the chance to implement ready-made lesson plans on philanthropy, social action, and giving back into their classrooms. There are fun, educational lessons on global diseases, environmental issues, philanthropic practices, social causes, science, and more. Each plan incorporates opportunities to effect positive change and nurture an appreciation for contributing to others.
These impressive accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Max and Jake have been featured on national news and recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, at the Gold Level.
The media spotlight is what captured the attention of their elementary school teacher, who tracked the boys down and worked with them to develop those lesson plans. Now that the plans are on their site and readily available, she and the boys will track the responses and tailor the material accordingly. They welcome feedback from teachers and students, via the website.
Receiving an award from the White House, along with a gold medallion for each of them and a signed letter from the president, is an honor they are proud of. That honor was presented to them at an event by The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service . As luck would have it, it was also the boys’ 16th birthday.
A presidential award is quite the birthday present. Still, the boys have a tradition of donating to others on their birthday rather than receive gifts. In keeping with that tradition, as part of their presentation to the Commission, the boys donated 16 packages each to the Freedom Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the military community and honoring American values.
They presented these packages to the Chairman of the Freedom Alliance, who is also a member of the Commission. Much to their own surprise, the boys were also celebrated with a birthday cake. It was a back-and-forth- match of pride, fun, and charitable spirit the boys will never forget.
Jake and Max believe that anyone, at any age, can make a difference. They are perfect testaments to that belief. Their efforts have raised over three hundred thousand dollars to date, and served as a catalyst for other kids to give back – and they are just getting started.
They’ve got plans to go worldwide someday, to serve as an international conduit for generations of kids who want to give back. Maybe one day, their own children will step in to assume leadership of this initiative.
Jake and Max Klein have achieved extraordinary success in their mission to cultivate charitable mindsets.
They have impacted thousands of people look to the future with optimism and excitement. It is not always easy to see their work through, but they are committed to doing so. They have learned much about tenacity and perserverance at an early age, and offer heartfelt advice to anyone facing challenges in their own lives;
[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t always take the easy way out. Always look for new opportunities. Always go out there, see what you can do. Don’t stop when one door is closed – Try and open other doors.” quote=”Don’t always take the easy way out. Always look for new opportunities. Always go out there, see what you can do. Don’t stop when one door is closed – Try and open other doors.” theme=”style5″]
They won’t be asking for birthday presents anytime soon but they do have one wish; they’d like to personally meet the president. This, they know, could lead to even greater success in their mission.
Perhaps they will meet the president one day. Or perhaps the will be presidents one day. Time will tell.