Our kids are amazing. We are a team of 50 students and two teachers. The students take ownership of the Holiday Family service project from the get-go. Don't try to tell a 13 year old that they cannot do something! Every year we set a goal of 1500.00 in fundraising in order to help the family take care of needs (heating bill, beds, etc) and wants (clothes, toys, etc). In each of the nine years that Melissa (@melissahellwig4) and I have been teammates, our kids have surpassed that goal. We budget six weeks for collecting, from November 1 through December 15. We don't just passively put it out there that we are collecting; we (both teachers and students) actively create ways to raise money.
While we are trying to fund raise, we try to make it fun. We have "auctions" where a student (or the student's family that wants to donate) can bid on a prize. The prizes range from a dozen cake pops that have been donated, to a DVD or portable stereo that a student no longer wants, to a high-five. Yes, one year we had a student auction off a high-five. He would give a high-five to the person who donated the most for it. That high-five went for 22.00. It was a bit crazy, but it was a fun way to get another donation.
The funny thing is, kids rarely ask what we'll "get" for our fundraising efforts. In a day and age when everyone seems to only want to give something if they get something in return, these kids are selfless. They conduct bake sales, collect from the people at their churches, go around their neighborhood collecting for the cause and even ask their doctors or dentists for donations when they go in for appointments. We figure that everyone will give if they're asked. Our kids ask. Nearly all of the time, when the kids ask, they are met with a smile and a donation.
Our current service project ends two weeks from tomorrow (on December 15). So far we have raised over 1900.00 so we have surpassed our first goal and have set a new goal of 2000.00. Since these kiddos are so determined, they always reach their goal.
One of the beautiful things about the program is that, while the recipient family remains anonymous, we do get to hear about the delivery of gifts from our counselors. Often one of the parents will write a note to our team, telling the kids about the huge difference they have made in the family's lives. When the kids hear that real people, not a faceless organization, were immediately and positively impacted by their efforts, they gain a sense of their power. Our kids learn both empathy and a sense of what a positive force they can be in the lives of others.