Helping the hungry and those with special needs, protecting animals and the environment, supporting veterans: These are just some of the ways the 50 students in the Leadership U (LU) Class of 2014 gave back to the community. The students completed seven community service projects, which they created after becoming familiar with the needs of the community.

The Banding Together team assisted individuals with special needs by selling wristbands and other fundraising activities for the Linwood Boutique, a thrift store in Ellicott City that provides employment for young adults with autism.

Soldiers’ Aid 8 sought to assist veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder by working with the local VFW’s “Operation Uplink” program. The team raised money for “Free Call Days,” during which active duty service members serving in the Middle East, as well as hospitalized veterans, can make free phone calls home to family and friends.

Teens Against Tobacco educated young people in the county on the dangers of smoking, focusing on both education and fundraising. They developed an educational program and “Jeopardy”-type game that was presented to more than 200 young people in the county, and also raised funds that supported the American Legacy Foundation, an organization aimed at reducing smoking among youth.

Bagging for a Better Future raised awareness of hunger in Howard County by collecting food and toiletries from neighbors, and organizing Restaurant Nights to raise funds. They prepared and served a meal at Grassroots and donated funds and resources to both Grassroots and the Rt. 1 Day Resource Center.

Toys and Towels supported animal advocates through several fundraisers for the Fulton Animal Hospital and the Animal Welfare Society.

Care for Kids reached out to children returning home from a stay in the hospital. The students made 50 care packages for children in grades kindergarten–5 that included toys, books, activity packets and personal letters written by students.

Leaf Our Plants Alone created an educational program to teach young people about invasive plants in our environment. They worked with the Howard County Conservancy to develop a program for its use, which also was delivered to area Boy and Girl Scout troops.