D181 kids working to make world a better place

One of the things that has always impressed me about Hinsdale is how philanthropic its residents are - and I'm not just talking about adults.

Kids at two District 181 schools are in the midst of fundraising drives this month. The Madison School Kids Care Club is holding its third annual summer camp supply drive, looking for markers, paint, paper and more to donate to the summer camp at Anne M. Jeans School in Willowbrook.

And at The Lane, a group of fourth-graders is collecting soccer balls, basketballs and other sports items for the TOCO sports camps in St. Lucia. More information on the drives - including how to donate - can be found on Page 21 of today's paper.

Kids Care Club is back at Madison this year after a hiatus due to COVID-19, parent sponsor Amber Nolan said.

"We didn't do it for the past two years, so we really revived it this year," she said. "We got the kids matching neon T-shirts. They wear those at each service event."

The kids already have collected more than $1,000 worth of camp supplies, said Jeanne Hendrie, another parent sponsor.

"It was amazing. People are so considerate and generous," Hendrie said. "I hope it's becoming a little bit of a tradition where families recognize we do this every year."

The Community House runs the summer camp and other programs for kids who live in Willowbrook Corner, an under-served area south of Hinsdale. Hendrie was a volunteer tutor with the program for 2 1/2 years while she was home with her kids. (She went back to work last week.)

"It's such an amazing program. I think the world of it," she said.

The Kids Care Club is comprised of 35 students in third through fifth grade who are committed to acts of service. So far this year, the kids have participated in a variety of activities, from packaging food at Feed My Starving Children to sharing Christmas carols and crafts with residents at Magnolia Senior Living Facility to raising more than $2,500 to support hurricane and earthquake disasters. (See photos on our Facebook and Instagram pages.)

"It's a great way for the kids to learn they can think of other children and give back," Nolan said. "We're excited to offer them all these different opportunities locally." The club received a KIDS grant from the District 181 Foundation to buy bracelets to sell for Florida hurricane relief. The foundation awarded 36 grants this year to 93 students, many of them working in groups.

Fourth-graders at The Lane were among those grant recipients, receiving $150 to buy new equipment for the TOCO camp, said Maureen Laschober, a speech-language pathologist at the school.

She has organized several drives with kids at the school, usually collecting items such as soap or cereal for HCS Family Services. This group of fourth-graders - Carter Cox, Harry McDonnell, Julian Nemeth, Charlotte Pebelske, Miles Perucki and James and Lucas Szafran - approached her about conducting the drive. They had learned about the They Often Cry Outreach through their PE teacher.

"They did some research and found his organization and asked me to sponsor it," Laschober said. "I guided them to the grant."

The students also took it upon themselves to make a video promoting the drive, which was shown to all classes at The Lane this week. A link to it is posted on The Hinsdalean's Facebook and Instagram pages.

"They're social media savvy," Laschober said. "Miles was the one who really drove the editing."

Kids also will read morning announcements at school and walk the car drop-off line with a megaphone. All help them become better public speakers.

"It's an opportunity for them to shine, for them to take some leadership skills," she said.

Laschober's inspiration is her mom, a Chicago Public Schools teacher who volunteered at a domestic violence shelter for 27 years before she passed away earlier this year.

"She just always taught us to give back," she said.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean