Kingsland - and the districts that combined to make Kingsland - rarely had a senior class trip, which is an annual event in most small school districts in the area. This year's senior class decided it wanted a class trip to form final, lasting memories together and, since it lacked a tradition to follow, invented its own trip.

They ended up choosing Chicago, which isn't an unusual destination as the nation's third largest city is relatively close with many educational and cultural attractions. However, the itinerary of their trip is a bit unusual. In addition to the Sears Tower, Navy Pier and Wrigley Field, the students decided they also want to work at Feed My Starving Children to package food for hungry youngsters while on their farewell fun tour.

Volunteer vacations are gaining in popularity among adults who seek more meaning in their lives while also attempting to gain perspective and a balance to life. However, it isn't something that would be expected from young people closing out their senior year of high school, a time tradition dictates is focused mostly on just having fun as they count down the days to graduation.

The generation gap so many adults experienced years ago doesn't seem to be such a gap today. Youth aren't looking to isolate themselves from the community. They aren't focused solely on partying. This definitely isn't the "me generation."

The evidence isn't just from the local seniors' choice of class trip. The Kingsland National Honor Society had a clothing drive two weeks ago, offering free clothes to families in need due to the struggling economy. The drive, held in the Spring Valley Community Center where rows of tables are displayed, takes a lot of work and organizing.

It's a great opportunity for students to volunteer together and contribute to the community, said their advisor, Stacey Hogberg, who found no shortage of young people willing to pitch in. Likely, this experience is paving the way for these future leaders to contribute to their communities when they become adults.

The NHS students have also volunteered in many other capacities throughout the year by holding service projects for various causes such as collecting food and money to feed the hungry, providing for residents at Spring Valley Senior Living, helping to teach younger students and participating in a benefit for a family that lost a home to fire.

Another group, the Kingsland Key Club, sponsored by Spring Valley Kiwanis, is built on service. The entire focus of the club, which has a good number of members, is community service, including helping the hungry, setting up a project at the community Halloween party for youth and aiding in many community events.

One of the larger projects of the Key Club is an annual blood drive. Students don't just organize blood drives, though. They also donate blood.

That was made possible when a Blooming Prairie teen pushed legislators to lower the age for youth to donate blood. A bill was signed into law July 1, 2008, allowing 16-year-olds in Minnesota to donate blood with parental consent.

Since 2008, the number of 16-year-old blood donors across Minnesota has grown steadily. That shows teens are thinking about more than just getting their driver's license when they reach that milestone age of 16.

That early habit carries on through the rest of their teen years and into young adulthood. One Red Cross official in Minnesota estimates that 20 percent of its blood donations come from high school and college students during the academic year.

The pages of this newspaper have been filled with examples of youth reaching out to the community over the years.

Sure, you're still going to hear about youth's excesses at spring break, the parties, and resulting consequences, around prom or graduation and other self-absorbed exploits of youth, but there is a definite trend away from "me" - toward an all-inclusive "we" - among our young people.

As Bob Dylan sang back in the '60s, "the times they are a-changin.'"