Innovative Art Project to Help Families Experiencing Homelessness

Houses for Change is a fun, educational art project to raise awareness of homelessness and raise funds for Family Promise, the nation’s leading nonprofit helping families experiencing homelessness.

Using art supplies, children decorate pre-ordered house-shaped cardboard boxes to look like a house. Participants take their boxes home and in the following weeks fill them with change. On a selected date, families bring their filled boxes back to the organization that arranged the project for a communal donation to Family Promise.

More than 50,000 kids have raised more than $500,000 for charities of their choice in the Houses for Change collection boxes they created.


Materials Needed

Provide crayons, markers, glitter, collage materials, scissors, glue sticks, and other arts and crafts materials to decorate the boxes.

Teachable OpportunityHouses for Change provides an opportunity to teach participants about homelessness and how the money they save in their boxes will help families experiencing homelessness.

For all of the teaching and promotional materials below, click on the link for a printable pdf :

Family Homelessness Fact Sheet
Teaching Guide – Grades K-3
Teaching Guide – Grades 4-6
Teaching Guide – Grades 7-12
Our Families, Our Future DVD ($8.00, sold and shipped separately)

CommunicationThe key to a successful Houses for Change project is to inform and engage participants and their parents. Include a letter to parents explaining the project, how the boxes are to be used, about Family Promise, and when the money saved will be collected.

Click here for the poster.

Media OpportunityChildren with homes helping kids without is the kind of human interest story that media like to cover. Please feel free to customize this Sample Press Release for your project. Please note that Page 1 of the document is a Media Advisory, which is a short release that goes out prior to an event with some minimum information to let reporters know what is happening. Page 2 of the document is a press release that should be sent to media contacts following an event.

For special orders or additional information, please contact us.


Where do I buy the boxes?
The inexpensive undecorated cardboard house-shaped boxes are sold at the online store in two quantities: 25 boxes and 100 boxes. This is the only expense you incur to organize the project.

How far in advance should I order my boxes?
Boxes are shipped via UPS from Maine. Allow at least five working days for delivery.

How can I organize a Houses for Change Project?
There are two ways to organize a Houses for Change collection box project.

  • Have children make their own boxes and take them home to fill with money.
  • Have children make boxes that are placed at local businesses to have customers and employees fill with money.

What are some tips for a successful Houses for Change project?
The key to a successful project is to communicate effectively to everyone involved.

  • If children are to take their boxes home, make sure participants and parents understand the purpose of the decorated boxes, the specific charity that will benefit from the money saved, and the date the money will be collected. If appropriate, have a speaker from the charity talk to participants about how the money they collect will make a difference in the lives of those assisted by the charity.  Edit and email the draft sample letter to parents explaining the project so their children will make it a habit to fill their boxes.
  • If the boxes are to be placed at local businesses, prepare a press release, poster and email to inform the community, customers and employees about the purpose of the decorated boxes on display at participating businesses.


Houses for Change was created by long-time Family Promise volunteer Mark Wasserman to engage youth in the issue of family homelessness and to teach kids the values of compassion, charity, and saving–values that will last them a lifetime.

Houses for Change has universal appeal. It has been adopted by families, schools, congregations, Vacation Bible Schools, homeless organizations, the United Way, and the YMCA to engage their youth in a meaningful service project. The project can be used in schools for collection boxes, at community service days, and children’s parties as piggy banks; at churches as Advent, Lenten, and Vacation Bible School collection boxes; and at synagogues as tzedakah boxes.

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