Charity for Change: Teaching the next generation of philanthropists, volunteers and community leaders

More than 3,000 local schoolchildren have raised almost $45,000 for 72 local charities during the past three years as part of the Charity for Change School “Giver” Program. This new monthly column will highlight their work with local elementary schools and, hopefully, inspire more local youth – and businesses – to become “Givers” too.

Naples-based Charity for Change was founded to create and promote opportunities for charitable giving as a way of living. The School “Giver” Program is a character-building initiative for elementary schoolchildren that emphasizes a charity theme and supports anti-bullying efforts in the schools. The curriculum inspires children to achieve their full potential by practicing good citizenship and experiencing the rewarding feeling that comes from helping others.

The program is based on state and local school district character traits such as respect, responsibility, honesty, cooperation and tolerance. The program’s multiple approaches include interactive math games, puppet shows, puzzles, certificates, lesson plans, contests and incentive prizes. These components provide a foundation for anti-bullying, volunteerism, community involvement, and social and personal responsibility.

Throughout the school year, each class selects a charity and sets a monetary goal during five six-week sessions. To raise funds, children donate change they receive from snack money, allowance and even the “Tooth Fairy.” Charities that are selected by the students make visits to the classrooms, sharing their mission and helping students further connect with how their donations help others.

Weekly, the class logs on to the Charity for Change animated website and plays an interactive math game with “Giver,” the program mascot. Giver encourages the students and celebrates their successes by doing the “Giver Shiver” (wiggle dance) with them. With each correct answer, the students earn additional dollars for their charities donated by Charity for Change Community Partners, including the Arlington, Arthrex, Rosenberg Family Foundation, 2nd Chance Foundation and Walmart.

Parents and teachers report that the School “Giver” Program has become a part of their school culture. Principals report the curriculum has enriched and broadened their students’ understanding of the world, developing their character, citizenship and empathy for others.

During the 2010-11 school year, students at Calusa Park, Golden Terrace, Lake Park, and Lely elementary schools participated. We will soon be announcing an additional school for the upcoming school year. Stay tuned for details.

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Character trait for August: Forgiveness

The Collier County Public Schools character curriculum defines forgiveness as “Benefiting yourself and others by ceasing to feel resentment, anger or indignation against another person.” It lists related words as grace, mercy, pardon and absolution.

Students are encouraged to write about someone they are upset with and think about whether or not they can forgive the person. They should also think about how they typically react when angry and identify ways to “let off steam” rather than react negatively.

People famous for their ability to forgive include Nelson Mandela, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elie Wiesel.

More information is available at

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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