YARMOUTH — Zoe Siegel and Parker Harnett, sophomores at Yarmouth High School, have published a new database-driven website called “How to Help in Maine” (www.howtohelpinmaine.org). They founded their organization in November 2018 because they realized that they had a lot of friends who wanted to help out in their community but were having trouble knowing how to get started.

Their mission is to raise awareness of all the places students (and adults, too) of any age can donate their time, goods and money to charities that need them most. They wanted to create an engaging space where students can learn about the benefits of volunteering, then link to charities which reflect their specific interests. They believe in taking action with urgency, in order to raise public awareness about some of the most pressing issues facing Maine today.

On their website, there are presently 20 charities that one can peruse and look for ways to volunteer, donate money or donate material goods. If someone has a specific item they want to donate, they can search for a charity that needs that particular item. If someone wants to volunteer in an area near them, they can search by regions throughout Maine. If someone wants to donate money in any amount, they can search via an organization type (shelter, animal, youth enrichment, etc.).

There is also an event calendar with fundraisers and projects for charities throughout Maine. The pair’s goal is to provide easy access to and awareness of fundraising events and to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone and help whenever and however possible.

Siegel and Harnett hope to grow the website exponentially so it eventually covers all charities in all regions of Maine. To that end, on the website there is a simple way to “Add Your Charity!” by filling out a Google form linked to the page. The goal is to create a self-sustaining website to which charities and students are drawn. They hope that organizations will share their information and needs to encourage volunteering and the donation of goods and money.

A final component of the site is a blog page of volunteering stories. Students are encouraged to send in their stories of volunteering. Articles ranging from tips to awkward encounters to inspirational moments are all there. Visitors to the site can explore and feel inspired and empowered with ideas on how to take action and make real change in the community.

Students should visit www.howtohelpinmaine.org to find a volunteer opportunity.

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