The following is a reproduction of an article which appeared in the January 2011 issue of Naples Journal.
By Robin DeMattia
Giver Gives, a 6-foot orangutan mascot, looms larger than life and is the friendly face that inspires Collier elementary school children to learn about their community, philanthropy and giving back.
He is: the mascot of Charity for Change, a Naples based charity that reinforces character traits such as cooperation, respect, responsibility and kindness while encouraging children to raise money for local charities.
Initiated during the 2008-09 school year, the School "Giver" Program now includes four elementary schools and more than 3,000 students. During the 2009-10 school year, the students at Calusa Park, Golden Terrace, Lake Park and Lely elementary schools raised $16,037.02 for 72 charities. All the money raised by the students goes to the charities; Charity for Change's operations are funded solely by individual donations, foundation grants, business partners and civic organizations.
During five six-week sessions throughout the year, each classroom selects a charity to support and a monetary goal to achieve. Each class typically raises between $20 and $40 for each charity. Each session has a charity theme: Food/Shelter/Emergency, Health, Animal Welfare, Art/Education/Environment and School Choice.
The charities who receive the funds are invited to visit the classrooms and discuss the work they do. Over 50 classrooms were visited by charity representatives during the last charity session.
The students are rewarded for their positive behavior and good citizenship with prizes donated by the charities and local businesses. Students are also awarded with special certificates signed by Giver for exhibiting the character trait of the month.
Because all the funds the children raise go directly to the charities, Charity for Change relies on donations to run its operations. Donations to Charity for Change provide items such as goal-setting posters, charity banks for the classrooms, incentive prizes, custom math game and puzzle development, puppets and puppet theaters, and character development skits.
Donations can be made on-line at charityforchange.org or by calling 239.592.6787.