Karen Olson, President of Family Promise, spoke recently with 5th graders at Franklin School in Summit about the plight of homeless children in their community and across the country. She presented the Houses for Change® initiative, an arts-and-crafts project that raises awareness and funds to help homeless families. The students participated in the discussion, considering issues like needs versus wants and what it means to be homeless.
The students, with the help of 1st grade “buddies,” decorated collection boxes to look like houses and took them home to fill them with coins and bills. But they were not content with just collecting spare change. Inspired by Olson’s words, two of the boys set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for their “houses.” Some of the girls held a bake sale and raised $350 in just a few short hours. Others looked for extra chores they could do around the house to earn money for their boxes.
Andrea Mather, a parent coordinator at Franklin School, oversaw the initiative. “This was a great project for the kids,” she said. “Karen’s presentation was so moving and the students were very creative about finding ways to support Family Promise. I’m hoping this is a tradition we can build on in the future.”
When the boxes were turned in this week and the money was counted, the total collected by the students was $1,666.24. The funds will be donated to Family Promise’s Union County program.
It wasn’t all about money, however. The initiative taught the children about the values of charity, compassion, empathy and teamwork. As 5th grader Anya Feeney said, “I liked the chance to make a difference in another child’s life and help them get a fresh start. And decorating the houses with our 1st grade buddies was great!”
For more information about Houses for Change, call Chris Kaul, Director of Communications at Family Promise, at (908) 273-1100, ext. 43 or visit our Houses for Change page.