Category Archives: Youth Philanthropy

LIFE Grants support LaGrange County youth projects

LIFE members volunteer at The Waters in LaGrange.

LaGrange County Community Foundation awarded ten LIFE grants totaling $17,495 to area organizations and schools during its 2024 LIFE grant cycle.

The grants will support educational and youth projects in LaGrange County.

LIFE is a youth philanthropy program of the LaGrange County Community Foundation. Members represent Lakeland, Westview and Prairie Heights High Schools, with one representative from each class in 9th-12th grades.

The students learn about philanthropy and charitable giving and are responsible for reviewing and making funding recommendations for the LIFE funds at the Foundation.

“Grants awarded through the LIFE program provide members with grantmaking and charitable giving experience. They connect with programs active in our community and financially support them through this competitive grant program,” said Leanna Martin, Community Foundation Program Director and LIFE Navigator. “It’s an excellent way for youth to be a part of the bigger picture within LaGrange County.”

Prairie Heights High School received a grant of $1,050 to help purchase professional style mixers for its culinary program. The program is in its second year at Prairie Heights, with nearly 60 students enrolled in the Culinary Arts career pathway. The culinary students have catered meals for athletic teams, provided refreshments for dances and made muffins and cookies for the food service at Prairie Heights.

Westview Elementary School also received a grant of $1,800 to help purchase display boards for the Westview Elementary Art Show.

Additional 2024 LIFE Grant recipients include:

  • Community Harvest Food Bank, “Kids BackPack and TeenPak Hunger Relief Initiative,” $2,500;
  • Crossroads United Way, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library LaGrange County,” $2,500;
  • LaGrange County Department of Parks & Recreation, “Adventure Bound 2024,” $2,500;
  • Prairie Heights Football Boosters, “Prairie Heights Football Annual Free Youth Camp,” $1,800.
  • Westview Elementary School, “Personal Hygiene Supply Packs,” $2,020;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “aMAYzing Crew (technology),” $2,125;
  • Westview Jr-Sr High School, “Oakley’s Cardio Drumming Squad,” $700; and
  • Youth for Christ Northern Indiana, “Westview Campus Life,” $500.

Each school year, LIFE seeks proposals for youth programs serving youth in LaGrange County. LIFE members review the submitted grant applications and make recommendations to the Board of Directors who approve the grant awards.

These grants are made possible through the generosity of donors who have supported the LIFE Grantmaking Fund at the Community Foundation.

Leaders Excited About Philanthropy 2023

Wednesday, November 15, National Philanthropy Day, our LIFE youth philanthropy members hosted the bi-annual LEAP Event, Leaders Excited About Philanthropy. Students from our 3 county public schools are encouraged to get involved in their community during this one-day conference on leadership and philanthropy. 

Our 12 LIFE members along with their LIFE leader, Leanna Martin have been working since Spring 2023 to organize this event for high schoolers from Lakeland, Prairie Heights and Westview. This year’s event was held at Lakeland high school. The members chose the speakers, nonprofits in attendance, icebreakers, snacks and even found donations and sponsors for the event.

There were a lot of fun and education activities throughout our 4 hours together. Our time included lots of Icebreakers for the kids to get to know each other. They also organized a Community Nonprofit Fair in which volunteers/ employees from Agape Missions of LaGrange County, LaGrange County Community Foundation, Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity, and Reason 4 Hope attended. These nonprofits spoke to the kids and shared how they started, where they are located, what they do, and how a person could get involve or help the nonprofit. After the student listened to the nonprofit, they would get their Passports signed to enter for prizes. The prizes were donated from many of our awesome community members, nonprofits and business (see list below!).

We also had a great speaker, Coach Seth Maust from Five Star Life. He spoke to the kids on looking beyond themselves to see others, leaders volunteer first, as well as many other good philanthropic ideas. Octavia Yoder, Executive Director at LaGrange County Community Foundation also spoke to the students about philanthropy, working for a nonprofit and what jobs are available, notably in our area. There was also a small Community Service Project they were able to participate in.

Before they left, students were asked to take part in an end of event survey, in which 100% of the 45 students who participated, said that they would recommend LEAP to a friend.

Our LIFE members did an amazing job of working hard and running the event. But none of that would have been possible without the donations and sponsorships from our community. We want to thank the following individuals/ businesses/ nonprofits for helping the LEAP event be a success:

Donations: Crossroads United Way, E&S Sale, Elijah Haven, Farmers State Bank, Habitat for Humanity, LaGrange County CVB, LaGrange County REMC, Lassus Bros. Handy Dandy in Wolcottville and Yoder Popcorn. Financial Support: Cierra Young & Jessyca Castle, LaGrange Veterinarian Clinic, Shipshewana Trading Place, Tammi Haviland, The Riegseckers, Inc., Topeka Pharmacy and Wear Haus Designs.

LIFE: Youth Philanthropy in Action

The LIFE program is a youth philanthropy group supported by the LaGrange County Community Foundation. LIFE provides an opportunity for young people to gain experience in community service and charitable giving. The students provide oversight to funds held at the Community Foundation. This school year LIFE offered two grant cycles awarding $11,926 to youth-serving organizations and school projects. For the complete list of LIFE grants click here.

We began our community service projects in November, serving lunch to the elderly at the LaGrange County Council on Aging.

In December students adopted a family for Christmas through LaGrange County Miracle Tree, providing funds from their own pockets as well as Community Foundation funds to support a child in need. In the spirit of Christmas, members also passed out cookies and provided in-person thank you to Sheriff’s department and local police departments.

In March the students attended Dekko Foundation’s Philpressionism, a youth pod retreat, in Kendallville. The retreat lasted two days and was packed full of community service ideas, leadership, and relationship building. They also performed a skit detailing what LIFE is.

As our LIFE program comes to an end for this school year we are headed to Miller’s Merry Manor to clean up their courtyard.

Our last meeting in May will be the retreat, where we will spend some time reflecting, team bonding, and participating in one last community service project, picking up trash along the Pigeon River as we kayak.

As we look ahead to the 2022-2023 school year, we will continue encouraging philanthropy in our community through LaGrange County youth.

For more information about LIFE, please visit,

LIFE Members provide Holiday Cheer to Parkview Health Workers

At LIFE we look for individuals who give their time, talent, and treasures to help better the community. Not often do we recognize workers like those in healthcare who dedicate so much time and effort to the safety and health of our community.

Dalton and I met our LIFE Navigator at the Parkview LaGrange Hospital to deliver some Holiday Cheer.

Five gift baskets were put together that contained coffee, tea, chocolates, chapsticks, and hand lotions. All things that healthcare workers desire!

A well-needed Christmas boost to the hardworking Parkview LaGrange employees who have done so much for our community this year.

We wish the Parkview healthcare workers Happy Holidays from LIFE.

This post was submitted by Sammy Updike, LIFE member.

If you would like to support LIFE and their philanthropic and community service efforts consider donating to the LIFE ENDOWMENT FUND or the LIFE OPERATING FUND.

LIFE – Community Service at Maple Wood Nature Center

By Breanna Baker

We were given the opportunity to volunteer at Maplewood Nature Center.

When we arrived we were met by a lady named Leslie Arnold who explained her position at the park as a naturalist.

She instructed us as we started service. The group split up and some worked on tidying up the sugar shack.

The rest took the center’s pet turtle named Tuck on a walk and cleaned his habitat.

Leslie guided us on a nature trail through the parks’s forest. We got to witness the maple trees at the peak of Autumn. Their leaves were the colors of rust.

After the walk, we began to work again. Some of us raked leaves while others cleaned and organized the building.

We enjoyed our time at Maple Wood not only participating in service but getting to learn more about LaGrange County. 

Breanna Baker

This post was submitted and written by Breanna Baker, LIFE member. Breanna serves as Recorder on the Executive Team and is a part of the LIFE Marketing Committee.

If you would like to support LIFE and their philanthropic and community service efforts consider donating to the LIFE ENDOWMENT FUND or the LIFE OPERATING FUND.