One often hears older generations bemoaning the current crop of teen-agers as undisciplined, self-centered and disrespectful, but we are more hopeful.
After all, haven't adults always believed that the youth of their day are 10 times worse than when they were young? Now, as then, we have troubled kids and kids who cause trouble.
But we also have plenty of kids who work hard in school, help out at home and know the meaning of manners. And, once in a while, we find a young person who goes far and above what's expected of any good citizen, child or adult.
Amber Coffman of Anne Arundel County's Old Mill Middle School is one of these.
She is 13. She lives with her mother in a Glen Burnie apartment. They don't have a lot of money, and they have known their share of hard times. Still do.
But Amber doesn't appear to dwell on that. Since she was eight, when she worked as a volunteer at the Sarah's House homeless shelter at Fort George G. Meade, she has given most of her energy and spare time to people who have less than she does.
Her story sounds almost too good to be true: She was only 10 when, inspired by a book report on Mother Teresa, she started organizing "Happy Helpers for the Homeless," a group of kids who use their Saturdays to put together 400 lunches for the hungry, then hand them out in Glen Burnie and Baltimore.
For her past two birthdays, instead of parties with all her friends and presents for her, Amber has thrown parties for the homeless at the Glen Burnie VFW. She bought presents for them.
She received $1,000 when she won the Maryland J.C. Penney Golden Rule Volunteer Award last month. She says she plans to use the money to buy sweatsuits for the needy.
Amber's unusual efforts are starting to attract attention around the country. She soon will be featured in Weekly Reader and Parade magazines. A producer at Nickelodeon, the cable television network, recently filmed her for a segment on volunteers. He said he thinks what she is doing is "incredible."
So do we. Here's hoping she continues her good works with as pure a spirit and as little thought of reward as she did before anyone knew what was going on in her apartment on those Saturday afternoons.