Public Papers

Remarks at a Reception for Participants in Students Taking Action and Responsibility in Service


Looking out on these shining faces today, Barbara and I remember a summer day on the South Lawn more than a year ago when I challenged -- called upon -- every young person in America to make service to those in need a central and enduring part of their lives. And we are just delighted to be here to celebrate one significant result of that day, a new, exciting educational initiative called StarServe.

I want to first express my thanks to an old friend, several old friends, and I'm talking, of course, about Mike Love and the Beach Boys. Mike said that he was motivated to go out and help young people respond to this call. And he did, and he's done it, and he's given of himself, and so have his wonderful colleagues. And we are very grateful to them. I want to thank the Kraft General Foods Foundation for its underpinning, its financial support; and, of course, the United Way for its expertise.

Thanks to all the young people gathered here and, of course, to the stars who support StarServe and given of themselves as well. You and other stars who have already agreed to participate in this effort show that real stars -- real stars -- use their influence to encourage those who admire them to do likewise. As we speak, the materials of StarServe are being sent to more than 100,000 educators of students in grades 4 through 12 throughout the country.

And of course, StarServe isn't creating youth community service; many young people are already undertaking meaningful projects all around the country. There's no better example of this than Diane Wurst's third grade class in Polk, Nebraska, who, as we've heard, was our 48th daily Point of Light. Each school day for the last 7 years, each one -- you heard from one of them -- but each one of these third graders has telephoned these homebound seniors, offering words of comfort and cheer. You've heard from her and then got another little window by Trent there -- visiting their elderly friends on weekends and holidays, assuring those who are alone that someone cares.

While there are other outstanding examples of youth service, I want every young American, from 5 to 25, to be a Point of Light in his or her community. Whether it's lonely senior citizens, a troubled classmate or acquaintance, someone who's burdened by drug abuse, illiteracy, homelessness or hunger, there's a need right next door, down the hall, or in your own backyard that you can meet.

StarServe is one of the first independent initiatives of the Points of Light Foundation, the new, nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation on which I'm pleased to serve as honorary chairman. By making service creative and educational for young Americans, StarServe will help the foundation achieve its goal of engaging all Americans in service. Barbara and I believe that if, at an early age, you learn to serve those in need, it will become the way you live your whole life, bringing a sense of meaning and adventure that simply can't be matched.

StarServe shows that businesses can, indeed, help young people make their service ideas a reality, that nonprofits can provide invaluable counsel to those who are new to community service, and that the worlds of entertainment and media can use their influence to make service a pervasive part of the popular culture. I especially like the name of this project, StarServe, Students Taking Action and Responsibility in Service. Every young person wants to be a star.

Well, every young person has a gift to give to someone in need, and America needs your gifts now as never before. And so to all young Americans I say, answer the call to serve your community and be a star. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:19 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to the Beach Boys, a popular music group, and their vocalist, Mike Love; and Trent Stevens, a third-grade student at Polk Public School in Polk, NE.