At 16, Jian Massucco makes it her priority to keep up with the news every day.
“Not a lot of people my age care,” Massucco said. “They’re worried about Facebook and texting and other petty things that aren’t significant in the grand scheme of things.”
But Massucco, a junior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School, is not your typical teenager.
“I think it’s important to be aware of what’s going on,” she said.
That explains part of the reason Massucco formed a service club at her high school.
“You Got Served!” was the idea of Massucco, who founded it in August 2010 when she was a sophomore.
The club’s members aim to serve underprivileged youth, needy families and the elderly, and provide disaster relief in Baton Rouge and across the globe.
Through “You Got Served!” Massucco has organized car washes, bake sales, and drives to collect toys, shoes, books and food.
With weekly events its first year, the club’s members visited orphanages, a children’s hospital and a nursing home, participated in walk-a-thons, educated fellow classmates on HIV/AIDS, and donated money to such causes as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, breast cancer research and the American Heart Association.
“I want to do something to get involved in the community and I want to do something to get my peers involved in the community,” Massucco said.
With the school year having just started, Massucco’s calendar is filled with club meetings and other events, including a book drive already under way.
She’s working with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army of Greater Baton Rouge to donate the books to local families in need.
Last year’s initial book drive raised more than 600 books, which were donated to a local day care.
“We presented the kids with the books and it was so heartwarming to see the reaction of the kids,” Massucco said. “Some of them probably received their first book that day.”
Massucco said she and the other teens hadn’t planned on holding story time that day, but they were so touched that they started reading immediately.
Massucco is also getting ready to send off another shipment of donated shoes to victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. In all, students donated 342 pairs.
She said she spent some time as a very young child living in the country while her father was stationed there in the Navy.
“It made me want to help people I might have known or even didn’t know,” Massucco said.
With her mother’s advice, Massucco contacted the nonprofit Soles4Souls to help. She said she’s learned that teaming up with a larger, more experienced organization is often a good idea.
“The shipping costs would have been tremendous,” she said.
Massucco said she has been inspired by her mother, Jil Massucco, who counsels newly diagnosed HIV and AIDS patients.
“I’ve made so many new friends from environments different from mine, who come from impoverished areas,” Jian Massucco said.
“Just because they may be in need of different things doesn’t mean they’re not like you and I,” she added. “We should have each other’s backs.”
Along with her volunteer work and a demanding schedule of advanced placement and honors classes, Massucco is the Student Government Association treasurer, a Beta Club executive board officer and a member of Mu Alpha Theta math club.
She participated in the 2011 Louisiana Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference and has been active in Youth Leadership Fellows Institute.
Her hobbies include dancing and acting, and she teaches dance at Dream Factory Dance Academy.