With the third quarter of the 2014-2015 school year coming to its close, members of McNicholas High School’s Student Philanthropy Club have narrowed down the final four candidates for their yearly grant award, a final step in their year-long process of researching and selecting a charity. Now in its sixth year at McNick, Student Philanthropy works through Magnified Giving, a non-profit organization that grants local high schools $1,000 each to be given to the charity of their choice.
Moderated by religion teacher David Sandmann, the group is composed of juniors Maia Forman, Brittany Taylor, Margaret Schulhoff, Anna Schutter, and Emma Kapp, as well as seniors Lauren Fisher, Allie O’Keefe, Molly Kidwell, Gabrielle Latreille, Michelle Rowekamp, and Sidney Schaeper.
Though it may seem like a simple decision to make, the process of choosing a charity actually begins at the beginning of the school year and carries through the springtime, when McNick students will soon have the chance to vote for their favorite organization. At the end of the year, the eleven-member student team will attend a banquet, where local schools will honor their chosen organizations by presenting them with a financial grant.
This year, the group has decided upon four final organizations, all of which focus on a theme of providing assistance and support to disadvantaged children.
When Aubrey Rose Hollenkamp was born six weeks premature in November of 1997, her parents knew she was going to face an uphill battle. Born with two holes in her heart, Aubrey was diagnosed with a series of cardiovascular and circulatory problems during her short time on earth, facing a double lung and heart transplant before she died suddenly at the age of two.
In memory of their daughter, parents Nancy and Jerry Hollenkamp began the Aubrey Rose Foundation, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization with the mission of assisting families caring for children with life-threatening illnesses by providing emotional and financial support. In addition, the organization plans a number of charity fundraisers throughout the year, one of its most successful events being the annual American Girl Fashion Show, held at Music Hall each spring.
“The Aubrey Rose Foundation provides scholarships for children, promotes organ donation, helps families pay for medical expenses, and funds heart surgery at Cincinnati Children’s for children from around the world,” senior Allison O’Keefe explained. “They provide children and families with hope and assistance when they need it most.”
Since its foundation in 1980, For Love of Children (FLOC) has been a haven for at-risk youth in Dayton, providing enrichment and educational activities to children who are most in need of a place to call home. Today, the group’s volunteers provide financial, educational, and emotional support to over 6,000 children and teens in the Dayton area, many of whom have been victims of abuse or neglect, or are seeking a permanent support system as they move through foster care.
Among its varying educational and social services, FLOC and its volunteers have organized a number of successful endeavors, including a Grant-A-Wish Program that reviews requests on a monthly basis, sending underprivileged children to cities like Washington D.C., and even overseas on vacations, providing computers, art classes, and even camping experiences to those who would otherwise be denied such opportunities. Through the Christmas for Kids program, the volunteers at FLOC have become granting the Christmas wishes of 2,261 children in the last year alone.
“FLOC helps underprivileged children in the downtown Dayton area have a ‘typical’ childhood and makes them feel loved,” junior Maggie Schulhoff said. “I think this work is important because all children should feel loved!”
Every year, the parents of over 15,700 children will hear the words no parent ever wants to hear –“Your child has cancer.” Christine Neitzke, co-founder of the non-profit The Dragonfly Foundation, knows those words all too well; in February 2010, her son Matt was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Knowing that the path to recovery is often an arduous journey, one of The Dragonfly Foundation’s primary services involves providing “distractions,” including toys, games, and electronics, that provide patients and their families with something positive to focus on during chemotherapy sessions, bone marrow transplants, and hospital stays. The organization also offers weekly social events for families, a number of which take place “The Landing,” a 6,000 sq. ft. Cincinnati clubhouse that provides patients with a home away from home.
“I think the work they do is so important because they help very sick children forget about their illness and feel like a normal kid,” senior Michelle Rowekamp said. “They’re helping kids cope with their diseases and bringing them hope.”
Founded in 2003, Building Blocks for Kids (BB4K) provides assistance to nearly 400 children in the Cincinnati area, many of whose medical expenses are not matched by traditional insurance/health care programs.
“Building Blocks for Kids helps kids with serious conditions improve their lives by providing the medical equipment they need,” junior Emma Kapp said. “People can donate money towards a certain child’s need, and the foundation will get anything from wheelchairs, communication devices, and chairlifts. I think this is important because it is giving children all the tools they need to live with their condition and gives them something that they might not otherwise be able to have.”
Through their medical assistance programs, BB4K is able to provide local children with the supplies they need, whether it’s providing a hearing aid to a child in need, or a wheelchair ramp for teen with physical handicaps. Though general donations are accepted, BB4K also offers a program with which donors can chose to sponsor a specific child, whose biographies can be founds here. Categories for sponsorship include therapy, hearing/communication, medical equipment, building, mobility, and personal care.