I love DoSomething.org because it brings out the spirit of community service in our youth, and after reading about the organization’s newest initiative, my love has only grown. DoSomething.org is launching the Crisis Text Line on Aug. 1 in Chicago and one other national market with a nationwide expansion planned for January 2014.

So what is a crisis text line? It’s a traditional crisis hotline service offered via text message. A teen in crisis can reach out via text, anywhere, anytime. A trained crisis counselor will receive the text and respond within 14 minutes. Text messages are often a teen’s primary method of communication, and launching a crisis hotline that utilize this technology is simply brilliant.

The initiative is still in its infancy; a few employees at DoSomething decided that the nation needed a text-based crisis service and decided to do what they could to get this service off the ground. The Crisis Text Line is getting a big boost this month thanks to a partnership with JCPenney. JCPenney shoppers can round up at the register with donations going to the Crisis Text Line. The fundraiser begins today and runs through the end of the month. If you aren’t a JCPenney shopper but want to help, you can donate directly on the Crisis Text Line website.

This fundraiser will help the Crisis Text Line launch in its initial two markets on Aug. 1. A small staff runs the initiative; the staff page only lists two employees: Bob Filbin is the chief data scientist and Chris Johnson is the EVP of engineering.  

Crisis Text Line is searching for a PHP engineer to add to the staff, so if you are a PHP genius and want to work for an organization that will make a difference in the lives of teens, then this may be the position for you. (If lifesaving isn’t enough of a draw, then perhaps these perks may help: the position offers three weeks of vacation, the organization gives you your birthday and Valentine’s Day off and lets you off at lunchtime on Halloween if you come dressed in costume.)

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