Kids Helping Kids
By Presvytera Krista West

This past May, Fr. John Kaloudis came to St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of Portland, Oregon to give a presentation on the many wonderful ways that IOCC helps those in need. The presentation came during a fairly long service and I was certain that my rather active six year old wasn’t paying attention. But the next day she informed me that she wanted to help the people in need. What could she do? I called IOCC to see what she might be able to do — maybe stuff envelopes or some similar small task. They pointed me to the “Gift of the Heart” program in which various “kits” are assembled to help those in need (School Kit, Health Kit, Baby Kit, Disaster Kit).

My daughter had just been given a gift of $20 and she decided to spend all of it to put together three school kits. I offered to match her funds for a total of six kits. Then, her grandfather heard of her plans and offered to match funds as well, so now we had nine kits. We shopped around for the best prices on the school supplies we needed and then shipped off the kits. Well, I thought, a job well done and a good experience for her. But she was not content with only nine kits and she asked if she could raise money for more kits. We came up with the idea of having a lemonade stand at church during the coffee hour following the service. Any fundraising efforts in our parish must be approved by the parish council, so she made a short presentation to the council in order to have the lemonade stand. The council voted unanimously for the lemonade stand as well as granted matching funds, so we were on our way!

We set up the lemonade stand the last Sunday of each month (summer months only) and had several children helping out. By the end of the summer, we had raised about $150 (not including the matching funds). Several mothers and volunteers helped shop for the school supplies so that we could take advantage of the many back-to-school specials. We brought our cost-per-bag down to about $3 each. What started out as a small project, has become school supplies for 100 children in need. Seeing the success of our first year, we hope to continue the lemonade stand each summer.


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