SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- "Share your luck" is the mantra of the Lucky Duck Foundation, a San Diego nonprofit that works to make the lives of homeless people better.
Now, Lucky Duck is expanding to include teenagers known as Lucky Ducklings.
On a sunny Monday morning, some of the teens spent time helping out during one of the foundation’s food and water distribution events which, in partnership with the San Diego Sheriff's Department kitchen, distributes complete packaged meals directly to unsheltered San Diegans. It’s just one of the homeless initiatives the Lucky Ducklings, including high school seniors Lily Khabie and Kenan Pala, are a part of.
“I like to say that youth are 25 percent of the population, but 100 percent of the future,” says Kenan.
And that's not lost on the Lucky Duck Foundation, that’s why they hatched a plan last year to launch the Lucky Ducklings, a way for teenagers to learn not only about giving back, but the best ways to do that.
“We try to give them enough structure and fire power to be dangerous and then get out of the way and let youth do what they do,” says Drew Moser, Executive Director of the Lucky Duck Foundation.
When asked what impresses him the most about the ducklings, Moser says, “Each one of them is so incredibly committed and wise and mature, just a big heart for the issue.”
For Lily, her passion to help the homeless started with a chance meeting.
“I was driving my car and then someone had a sign and I was giving them money and we just had a full conversation and they are real people.”
For Kenan, it was the stark contrast he noticed at the age of 10.
“I was running in Torrey Pines and I came across this sick baby seal and I noticed there were a lot of people, there was a lot of commotion around the seal,” says Kenan. “Not even an hour later we drove by a homeless person who was also sick and who like the seal needed help, but instead of people going out of their way to help this man, they would drive by him, bike by him, walk by him. They would treat him as if he was invisible.”
So Kenan and Lily vowed to help. As Chair and Vice Chair of the Ducklings Advisory Board, they and about 125 other local teens have volunteered at other foundation food distribution events, have handwritten cards to include with the meals, and collected clothing for the homeless. They're learning early that a duckling can make as big a ripple in the pond as a duck.
“I really believe just helping one person at a time can make a huge difference,” says Lily.
“It doesn't matter the size of the difference, a difference is a difference,” says Kenan, “Just go out there, donate a toothbrush you know, carry some boxes. It all makes a difference and you've benefited the community and that's something to celebrate and be proud of.”
This spring the Lucky Duck Foundation is sponsoring a homeless innovation challenge. The ducklings have a chance to present their unique ideas for projects or strategies for tackling homelessness. The ideas judged to have the most merit will get funding.
The foundation welcomes donations and the founders will match gifts up to $1.5 million a year. Information for teenagers interested in becoming Ducklings can be found at https://www.luckyduckfoundation.org/lucky-ducklings/.