Fitchburg 4th-graders Helping Homeless
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- Fourth-grade students at South Street Elementary School are planning to make a difference in their community.
As part of the United Way Youth Venture program, these students -- Ryan Anderson, Dorothy Chelsea Barnor, Dominick Berdeguer, Danica Boivin, Joniel Figueroa, Kimberly Gonzalez, Melissa Kendall, Jeremy LaFleur, Finnegan Magennis, Joan Mlinga and Madison Ward -- are joining forces to help the homeless at Our Father’s House in Fitchburg.
They officially presented their heart-felt plan to a panel on Wednesday morning at South Street Elementary School.
“I am very proud of our South Street Youth Venture Group,” South Street Principal Jon Thompson said. “They worked hard and are very passionate about helping the homeless within our community.”
In helping the homeless, the students plan to make care bags because there are over 20,000 homeless people in the state, according to the students’ presentation. The fourth-graders said they would also “like to make an impact on our homeless peers within our South Street community. We have the power to change that.”
The plan centers around donating canned goods to the homeless so they don’t starve. They will also provide the homeless with hygiene items so they can stay clean, and also provide cards -- for young and old -- to bring them cheer.
“Many homeless people are ignored and it’s not good,” Barnor said. “If you ignore, you can’t help the community.”
The supply drive will be competitive by grade. The class that donates the most items in each grade will receive an extra recess.
All the supplies -- canned food, can openers, body and dental hygiene products -- gathered will help out many homeless in the community.
The plan drew rave reviews from the panel.
“This is exciting,” said Our Father’s House Case Manager Neisha Kifer. “It’s good to see young people who care. No amount donated is too small.”
In the presentation, the students highlighted several important statistics about the homeless, including that a quarter of the homeless are kids, and there are 10,000 homeless veterans and approximately 900 people stayed at Our Father’s House last year, including 600 who visited for the first time.
“Your facts were spectacular,” said Stephan Hay, Fitchburg’s state representative.
The supply drive at South Street is taking place from June 4-8. The bags will be filled from June 11-15 and delivery set up to Our Father’s House on June 18.
The end goal in this Youth Venture is to simply make homeless people happy and healthier.
“It’s very good to help people in need,” Mlinga said.
Garner is the school district’s Family and Community Partnership Champion.