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Published Jul. 6, 2006

A small act of kindness make can a world of difference.

_ Offer your babysitting services to a parent who needs a break. Maybe you know someone in your neighborhood, or even your family, who has difficulty finding a reliable babysitter or maybe just needs to get out for a while. Offer your services for a small fee, or even offer to do it for free.

_ Be a tutor. You don't have to be a math whiz or an English genius to help someone study. Offer your services as a study buddy or tutor to someone who might need a help. Know any little kids? Teach them their ABCs or even how to ride a bicycle.

Lingo to know

apathy: (ap e the) total lack of interest, feelings and concern

mutate: (myoo tat) to radically change

gene: (jen) a microscopic unit passed from parents to children, which contains tons of information that determines major stuff, such as your personality and what you look like

Totally trivia

Question: Why do dimes and quarters have grooves on the outer edge and nickels and pennies do not? _ Mike Logan

Answer: Dimes, quarters, half-dollars and dollar coins were once made from gold and silver. Some people would scrape a little precious metal off the edges and keep it. So the grooved, or reeded, edges were added to make such cheating obvious. Coins with reeded edges were also tougher to counterfeit. One-cent and 5-cent pieces, though, had no gold or silver, so their edges stayed smooth. Regular coins made today have no gold or silver. But traditional edging lives on. One reason: It helps blind people tell pennies from dimes, and nickels from quarters.

You decide!

You're all excited about making a difference in the world, so you run down to the local nursing home and sign up to read books to residents every Wednesday afternoon at 4. When you meet the lady you'll be reading to, Mrs. Grimble, she tells you she used to be an English professor. She says she loves to read, but can't do it anymore because her vision is almost gone.

After three Wednesday afternoons of reading aloud from a Charles Dickens novel, you are tired of having your pronunciation corrected by Mrs. Grimble, and tired of her rather disagreeable personality. The bottom line is you don't like her, but you know she's all alone and that she looks forward to your sessions.

You ask the woman who coordinates the program if you can "trade" residents with another volunteer. She tells you the other volunteers have developed close relationships with the residents and are unwilling to trade.

What do you do?

Do this stuff!

1. Think about the impact you want to have on the world and how you can start making it now. To give yourself a great view of the big picture, write a eulogy (a heart-wrenching speech about a person's life that is read at his or her funeral) for yourself _ to be read 80 years from now. What did you do that made a difference?

2. If you're busy changing the world like Andrea is, keeping track of everything can be a huge challenge. Make things easier on yourself and create a calendar notebook. On every sixth page, use a ruler to draw a monthly calendar. Start with September 1996 and end with September 1997. Decorate the header on each calendar with drawings that represent big stuff happening for you that month. Label the pages between the monthly calendars by the week, as in "The Week of Sept. 8 to Sept. 14." Use these pages to keep track of things you must do each week.

3. Create an anti-apathy poster. Write Andrea's motto _ "Apathy is a dominant gene _ let's all mutate" _ in enormous letters on the poster. Then cut out photos, pictures and phrases from the Times that represent actions and attitudes to show kids caring about families, friends, neighborhoods or the environment. Organize a heap of friends and make a lot of those posters, and get permission from your teacher or principal to plaster the school walls with them. Then do something yourself; try one of the "easy ways to make a difference" listed on this page.

What's up

The presidential candidates are on the campaign trail, with Democrat Bill Clinton in Florida last week and Republican Bob Dole scheduled for a swing through the state this week. While President Clinton was in Tampa, he made an appearance at a high school. What school was it? (You'll find the answer somewhere on this page.)

What's Up answer: President Clinton was at Hillsborough High School on Thursday morning, talking about his ideas for helping education.

Sources: Jamie Nicholson, Times education liaison; Helen A. S. Popkin, Times staff writer; Knight-Ridder Newspapers