There's a lot that gets said about the next generation.

A lot of times, it focuses on the negative, usually with toungue in cheek.

I'll admit, I've been there myself, especially when the boys don't do their chores properly or just entirely blow them off. "I forgot" is a response I hear far too often.

Then there's the complaints about them being addicted to technology and having no interest in anything else, the accusations of them only caring about their friend counts, likes and streaks on social media.

Some of that is true. But it's often exaggerated.

The neat thing about this job is we often get to see the positive things kids are doing. Just in the last week, I've personally seen it in the stories and photos I've covered in the course of my newspaper duties.

Last week, I got the chance to take a photo of the Ottumwa High School Silver Cord recipients for the Class of 2019. Those students put in a minimum of 200 hours of community service through their high school years. That's an average of 50 community service hours per year on top of school, homework, extracurricular activities, family commitments and even possibly part-time jobs. That's impressive. I struggled to do 40 over a year and a half for my confirmation —and that was with a 12-hour block from a lock-in I volunteered for at my friend's church.

That same day I went to Horace Mann where the fifth-grade students were working diligently on beautifying their school grounds. They had already put in the time raking and weeding and had moved on to planting flowers and laying mulch.

And you know what? They weren't griping about the work at all. They were having fun. Teacher Ann Weilbrenner said some of them even skipped recess to continue working. That's commitment.

Wednesday morning I found myself at Evans as the students packed meals for the hungry. They were working enthusiastically, some even racing to see how many bags they could pack.

But it wasn't just the Evans students putting in the time. Students from Ottumwa High School, who had been in the original group packing food from Meals from the Heartland, volunteered to return to middle school for the day to teach their younger peers what needed to be done.

As I was watching the students work, a thought popped into my head. Those high school volunteers were in Logan's class. He was there at the start of it, packing meals three times in his years at Evans. That's 150,000 meals he contributed to, and I never heard a word of it or gave him any credit for it.

That same day, my coworker was in Eldon covering the sand bagging efforts due to flood concerns. As he was working, a bus full of Cardinal students pulled in, answering the call for help that had been put out.

Yes, there are things to be concerned about for the next generation. But their willingness to give of themselves isn't one of them.

As Weilbrenner said, "We have great kids doing great things in this community."

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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