Fourth-grade students in Katie Womack's class at CHSD170's Roosevelt School recently spearheaded a fundraising activity aimed at helping the Chicago Heights homeless community.
The activity was part of the class's Social Studies curriculum. During the exercise, students identified a problem in their community and planned a strategy for helping address the issue. As part of the exercise, students identified items essential for survival, focusing on food, clothing, and shelter.
While brainstorming the matter, the students questioned what would happen if those elements needed to survive were not readily available. Eventually, the conversation turned to the homeless issue in Chicago Heights and addressed ways that the students might provide help for those less fortunate than they.
The students decided to raise money to purchase the needed items to donate to the homeless people forced to live on the streets. While the discussion was underway, classroom Paraprofessional Toni Baikauskas suggested considering donating goods to a local organization in Chicago Heights called Respond Now.
"We reached out to Respond Now to inquire about donating goods to help those in need in our community," Womack said.
"We learned that the items of greatest need were toiletries, socks, and nonperishable snack items. With this information, we began our fundraiser. To help achieve their goal, the students made posters to hang around the school to promote the sale of snacks."
With Baikauskas' help, the class purchased snacks, sold them to student body members and the Roosevelt community, and used the proceeds to purchase essential items such as full-size bottles of body wash, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and nonperishable snack items.
Procuring enough items to fill thirty bundles, the students decorated the bags with words of encouragement. They then presented them to representatives from Respond Now who were visiting the class to talk about the organization's history and its commitment to providing necessary assistance to those in need.
"The students were excited to receive thank you gifts from Respond Now to recognize their hard work and commitment to helping those in need," Womack said.
When asked about how they felt about participating in this project, all the students said knowing that they were helping others in their community gave them a warm feeling inside!
"This project was heartwarming because I witnessed the students create and execute a plan to help those in need in their community," Womack concluded.
Happy to help the students in their endeavor, Mrs. Baikauskas stated, "I was honored to be able to assist Mrs. Womack and the students with this project."
"Respond Now provides many vital services to our South Suburban communities, and seeing our students so willing to help was a truly humbling experience," she added.
According to its website, Respond Now exists to provide immediate relief for the residents of Chicago's south suburbs who are in the most need while maintaining their dignity and affording them respect. We do this by helping people through their temporary emergencies with financial assistance, providing food to families and individuals in need, and providing sound referrals and counseling for other needed services.
Those wishing to learn more about Respond Now may contact the organization by calling 708-755-4357.