Agoura High senior creates way for teens to give back

It was probably Scott Forman who informed his son’s desire to help others.

The Warner Bros. executive is active in Variety-The Children’s Charity, an entertainment industry group that raises funds to help disadvantaged and disabled children live better lives. Variety sponsors a Boys & Girls Club in Boyle Heights near Los Angeles and Forman has been bringing his children there since they were very young.

“He came to me and said, ‘Dad, I want to do more than just write a check and give away clothes. There’s nothing for me to do,’” said Forman. “He was in the seventh grade, I think, and we started drawing up the plans for a charity that would allow teenagers to give back.“

That’s how Junior Variety was born four years ago and its founding board member, Jeremy Forman, was just 14 and a freshman at Agoura High School.

Now a senior, Jeremy, 18, is getting ready to pass the torch to the next generation of Junior Variety volunteers. His “retirement” comes after having raised more than $200,000 over the last four years for disadvantaged and disabled students. Next year, he’ll be a freshman at the University of Colorado majoring in business.

On April 10, Junior Variety held its largest fundraiser of the year, the Kids for Kids Carnival at Willow Elementary School in Agoura Hills.

“It’s really a group effort,” said Jeremy. “We have a 12-member board with kids from high schools all over including in Ventura County, but also Orange County School of Performing Arts, a representative from Riverside and others.” The board members were all freshmen when the group started. Since they will be graduating, the makeup of the board is changing.

Jeremy’s younger sister, Felicia, an Agoura High freshman, wants to take an active part now, but nothing formal has been arranged.

Variety exists in 13 countries and is broken into chapters called “tents” based on its founding in the entertainment industry. “On movie sets, there would be tents set up for the people involved,” said Scott Forman. “Variety was founded in 1928 when a woman left her baby daughter on the steps of a theater. The note she left said she could no longer take care of the baby, but she knew entertainment people to be kind and caring. The men who found her saw to it the baby was taken care of.”

Junior Variety has raised money for a number of causes including Camp Harmony, an organization in the Santa Monica Mountains that provides week-long camps for children in difficult or even dangerous life situations. “We gave them $10,000,” said Jeremy. “They do really great work there. We also gave money to the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Alliance. TSC is a disease that causes tumors on the major organs of the body in kids. It’s pretty rare.”

Junior Variety raised $15,000 for the group over three years.

The Kids for Kids Carnival has grown since it began four years ago.

“It was originally a carnival started by a young lady who was told she was too young to do the Avon Breast Cancer Walk,” said Scott Forman. “So she started this carnival, but after a while, it stopped.”

“We picked it up and grew it into something far beyond what even we imagined,” he said.

The carnival featured inflatable and mechanical rides, a silent auction and raffle with prizes that include autographed sports and movie memorabilia among other items. Admission to the carnival was free, and Junior Variety saw to it that a busload of kids from the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights was brought to the event. “We gave them free tickets to play games and just gave them a chance to have fun for the day,” said Jeremy.

Jeremy’s youngest brother, Bailey, 11, also was excited about the carnival. “He made announcements at his school and invited people to come,” said Jeremy. According to Jeremy, Bailey said that when he gets to be on the board, Junior Variety will do even more.

“I just wanted to make a difference,” Jeremy said. “It’s touched me to do this and I really do love it.”

Source: Ventura County Star By: Mark Storer 2011-04-19 http://www.vcstar.com/news/2011/apr/19/agoura-high-senior-creates-way-for-teens-to-give/