Youth Ambassador Program

So I’m sitting here in a Ft. Lauderdale Starbucks and a mother with her little daughter approached my table.

“Excuse me, sir,” the girl said. “Would you like to buy cookies to support my cheerleading team?”

I smelled scam.

“No, thanks,” I said.

“Would you like to donate a dollar?”

“No, thanks,” I said.

I watched the two go from table to table around the store. It was heartbreaking. The girl was probably 8 or 9, scrawny, with dreads and a white shirt. Her mother was probably, oh, 25. As they were leaving, I gave up a dollar, mainly because it pained me to imagine this kid going from store to store, being rejected repeatedly. Also, it gave me the chance to ask who she was actually raising the dough for.

The mom told me, “Youth Ambassador Program—it gets kids doing something positive with their lives.”

Uh … like going from store to store begging strangers for dollars?

I looked up the “Youth Ambassador Program” and, in the age of finding everything via Google, found nothing. Sad.

I don’t know this kid, but I mourn for her. How can doing this possible help her? Asking a child to beg—whether it’s sitting on a street corner or peddling cookies under the guise of Youth Ambassadorship, is tragic.

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