Donating to Family Promise is more than just trying to win the class competition

The+Family+Promise+staff+celebrating+the+success+of+the+Christmas+Store.+

@familypromisegr on Instagram

The Family Promise staff celebrating the success of the Christmas Store.

This week, FHC and the Student Council are working together with the Family Promise to raise money for the homelessness in our community, and Executive Board Vice President, senior Maurielle Hayes, has had nothing but a positive experience when working with this nonprofit organization.

Her experience before and after joining the Student Council has opened her up to opportunities like dressing in an ugly Christmas sweater while decorating cookies with little kids–the Christmas Store. The last time the Student Council participated in the Christmas Store was in 2019, and because of COVID-19, they are not able to do it again this year. Though Student Council members won’t be there interacting with the families that Family Promise helps this year, that doesn’t mean that donating money isn’t just as important. 

“[Donating to the community] really matters,” Maurielle said. “I know all of these people hear all this stuff on FX, and you see the Student Council posting stuff about it like ‘Hey, come volunteer,’ or ‘Hey, come give money–fundraise!” We do the competition to gain more participants, but really, it showed me that it doesn’t really matter about the competition. We actually make an impact on those family’s lives and how real it is.”

In the winter, Family Promise hosts The Christmas Store, and it is exactly what the name suggests. The Christmas Store provides parents battling homelessness with the opportunity of buying toys, wrapping them, and giving their kids a present. And for the parents, they also go shopping for new household items like pots and pans to prepare food bought with the donated money.

It’s a really nice connection because you get to do more with the kids and do more than just ‘Hey, here are your gifts, here’s what we did.’”

— Maurielle Hayes

“It’s a really nice connection because you get to do more with the kids and do more than just ‘Hey, here are your gifts, here’s what we did,’” Maurielle said. “You get to make a connection with them and actually talk to them.” 

The Christmas Store is Maurielle’s favorite part about Family Promise. She enjoys the bonds that are made, but she also finds joy in raising donations for the less fortunate.

“Seeing the kids’ smiles [and] also the families that are helped [is rewarding],” Maurielle said. “We help families move out of shelters and into homes. I feel like that’s more impactful than a simple competition.” 

Biology teacher Patricia Richardson has been working with FHC and the Student Council to help families in their community. This is Richardson’s sixth year helping out with the fundraising, and she’s accompanied by biology teacher Kristy Butler. 

“Family Promise does a really nice job of making sure that we’re helping families that need the help and that we’re helping the families to get stable and stay stable,” Richardson said.

Before FHC worked with Family Promise to help give back to the community, they had an adopt-a-family program, which, in some ways, is very similar to what we do now. It changed, however, to expand who we were helping, and it also increased the involvement at FHC.

“It’s something that started years ago–probably 15 or more years,” Richardson said. “I like that we raise funds here for all of the toys, household items, and big-ticket items like vacuums and microwaves, and everything that the families get to buy and take home for Christmas.” 

Last year, the FHC community raised over $20,000 for Family Promise. With the money that students and families helped to raise, they were able to buy an FHC home to permanently house a family. Student involvement by donating money means more than a class victory; it means that we are helping families conquer homelessness. 

This week, at all three lunches, blue Family Promise buckets will be available for students to donate money, and Senior Class President Benji Zorn emphasizes how crucial it is that students make an effort to donate anything they can. 

“It’s important to donate to Family Promise because it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of others,” Benji said. “If you were in that situation, [it is life-changing to] have someone more privileged to be there to help you out and be that support.” 

Children and teens affected by homelessness and poverty are 47% more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Not only that, they’re 7 times more likely to commit suicide, and 42% of homeless students drop out before they graduate high school. Without a home or a stable source of food, it’s hard for young kids to obtain a proper education and be free of the burdens that come with living in a tough situation. 

Family Promise’s goal is to bring these families out of their situation for good, and over the years, they’ve helped hundreds of families regain their balance and stay out of poverty. This is why events like the Christmas Store are so important to our community; the money donated helps bring joy and a sense of normalcy before their lives are completely changed for the better. 

Donating virtually through PayPal is another great option to help our community.

“The families benefit greatly [from] what we provide,” Benji said. “We purchase them with the money we get. Also, we raised so much money last year that some of that went to helping one family in specific move into [the FHC house]. That’s how amazing last year was. It’s also a lot of class competition, but honestly, the main goal is to raise the most money and to maximize the amount of money–it’s more of an incentive.”

In order to help families in our area, find the blue buckets in the cafeteria to throw a few dollars in, or find the Family Promise booth at this week’s football game to donate some extra concessions change.

“It’s happy, but it’s also humbling because we’re all high school kids,” Maurielle said, “and we helped them do that. It makes you have an optimistic outlook because they’re now given the chance [to live a better life].”