Smiles have incalculable worth, but cannot be bought. As the anonymous writing, “The Value of a Smile” states, “It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and nature’s best antidote for trouble.”
When Tonya Riddick founded the SmileUp Foundation last year, she set out to accomplish all of this and more, through children in our community.
SmileUp’s mission is to get children involved in volunteerism by partnering with charities and outreach organizations that focus on children, ultimately bringing purpose and lots of smiles into young lives.
Riddick puts a lot of energy into serving children. As a busy mom of two, she has been involved in children’s ministry for 16 years. She envisions a world where kids are helping kids and leading the charge in volunteerism.
“Helping those in need accomplishes a lot in the lives of those who get involved,” she said. “It builds leadership skills, promotes empathy, increases self-confidence, and enhances social skills. It has also been proven scientifically to combat depression and anxiety. Every child has a purpose, and something to offer to the world. My goal with SmileUp is to get children in their purpose so they will have clarity throughout life.”
At SmileUp, kids help kids through awareness, advocacy and action in three main ways.
• Partnering with charitable organizations that advocate for young people.
• Handling the logistics involved in creating volunteer opportunities for youths with these charities.
• Contacting registered volunteers based on the ages that best fit the opportunity.
The SmileUp nonprofit officially launched in September 2018. The debut events involved the young volunteers painting faces at a November chili cook-off benefit for the food pantry Never Alone. They also decorated the headquarters of the Children’s Haven for Christmas, where the family time visitation center offers a safe and comfortable place for foster children’s court-appointed visits. To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Riddick dedicated Jan. 21 as SmileUp’s hallmark day of service. Partnering with Together We Rise, SmileUp kids provided 100 decorated duffle bags for foster children.
Don’t let your children miss out on these wonderful opportunities to learn skills that will serve them the rest of their lives. To get involved with SmileUp or make a tax deductible donation, visit www.smileupfoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing address is: 1025 Rose Creek Drive, Suite 620-237, Woodstock, GA 30189.
– Susan Browning Schulz, a Bible teacher, author, wife, and mom of three.