The following is a reproduction of an article which appeared in the August 2009 issue of e'Bella.
Charity for Change is a nonprofit organization in Naples designed to create and promote opportunities for generous giving as a way of living. Its vision is to create a charitable movement to encourage daily giving for all ages.
Students at Calusa Park and Lely Elementary schools have participated in a pilot program with Charity for Change this past school year, and are continuing throughout the summer. Overall, the students have collected more than $12,500 for several local charities like St. Matthew's House, Humane Society of Naples and the American Red Cross.
As part of the School "Giver" Program, students research charities and select one to support. Then, together they set a fundraising goal. Some of the students' hard work includes Calusa students raising $200 to buy new clocks for families in the community and Lely students collecting 1,285 quarters for the food bank for the 4th of July.
One way this program connects with its young audience is through its mascot, Giver. The tall, bright orange orangutan does a dance known as the"Giver Shiver," encouraging students to dance as well after they've made a donation. Giver promotes the Character Trait of the Month, and preaches his motto, "It's a great day to give!"
Charity for Change embraces a character-development curriculum with its Giver Program, which allows students to learn and practice positive character traits and enjoy the wonderful feeling that comes from helping others. Classrooms can win weekly prizes and students can be nominated for Student of the Month awards. Plus, kids can earn additional dollars for their classroom charity by playing the "Counting for Charity" math game. The organization offers two additional opportunities for giving through Holidays for Children and the Tutoring Club. Through Holidays for Children, volunteers shop for, wrap and deliver gifts, school supplies and food to poor families of elementary school students. This program has brought smiles to over 900 children and their families during the holiday season.
The Tutoring Club is an after school program for students at risk of failing third grade. Fundamental reading and test-taking skills are addressed to improve their academics. More than 120 students have been helped.
"You can make a difference; and together we can make change" is what Charity for Change strives for. Whether it is changing the world through volunteer work, donating their piggy bank change or sponsoring a family for the holidays, the students who participate are touched by the lasting difference they can make.