Children are our future, as the song goes, but, thanks to Houses for Change, concerned kids nationwide are also having a real impact on family homelessness today. This month, Summit-based national nonprofit Family Promise celebrated the 500th sale of Houses for Change collection boxes, an arts and crafts project aimed at engaging children of all ages—kids with homes helping kids without.
The Vacation Bible School at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, Florida, made the landmark purchase. More than 50 children, pre-K to 4th grade, decorated their house-shaped cardboard boxes to look like homes. They will spend the next weeks filling them with coins and bills and will donate the funds collected to Family Promise. As Father Paul Kane explained during the session, “We care about people who are hurting, boys and girls and moms and dads who don’t have a home to live in, but we also want to do something to make their circumstances better.”
Houses for Change was created by long-time Family Promise of South Palm Beach County volunteer Mark Wasserman. After successfully test marketing this project with local congregations, Wasserman approached Family Promise to sponsor his concept as a national campaign. Wasserman works pro bono to market Houses for Change locally and nationally. “I love leading Houses for Change workshops and seeing the enthusiasm of kids for this project,” said Wasserman. “They learn about family homelessness and how the money they collect will help these families have a home again. Kids really get the message that they can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. That is a lesson that will last them a lifetime.”
The initiative has become a signature friend and fundraiser for Family Promise. “To be honest, we had no idea Houses would have this kind of impact when Mark approached us,” said Chris Kaul, Director of Communications for Family Promise. “Since our first sale in October 2010, 50,000 kids have participated, raising more than $500,000 in the fight against homelessness. Those funds are very welcome, of course, but the value of engaging children on an issue like family homelessness at an early age is priceless. 2.5 million children will experience homelessness in America this year. That is unacceptable and people need to be made aware of their plight. Houses for Change helps us tell that story.”
For the design, manufacture and fulfillment of Houses for Change cardboard boxes, Family Promise chose Volk Packaging, a third-generation family business in Biddeford, Maine. That has proven to be the perfect choice, as the company has become a committed supporter of Family Promise over the years. “Volk is passionate about boxes, customer service and giving back to community,” said CEO Douglas Volk, “which is why we are thrilled have contributed our part to reach this milestone. We look forward to creating many more boxes for this brilliant project.”
Houses for Change truly has universal appeal. It has been adopted by schools, congregations, homeless organizations, the United Way, and the YMCA to engage their youth in a meaningful and impactful service project. To learn how to organize this project in your community, click here.