Charity for Change celebrated a year’s worth of learning 19 character traits, practicing charitable giving, volunteering and academics with year-end awards and fun at six high-energy assemblies at four Collier County schools this month. The last two celebrations for this year were Wednesday at Calusa Park Elementary, one of the first two schools to participate in Charity for Change when it was started in 2008. The year-long school program with coordinated class, school, family and community participation develops key skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

Since 2008, Calusa Park Elementary School children have raised $54,868 with fundraisers and by successfully completing academic challenges to “earn” donations from community partners for classroom charities. This year, children in Kindergarten-5th grade at the school raised $1,884. Since it started, children in the Charity for Change program have raised a total of $133,842 for area non-profits the students learn about and select.

Students from each classroom, as well as one student of the year are recognized at each assembly, but the highlight is the appearance of Giver, the furry 6-foot orange orangutan mascot that helps motivate children during the year and by doing the Giver Shiver dance.

Jack Chadwick, president of Spring Run Charitable Foundation, supported by residents of Spring Run at the Brooks in Bonita Springs, said the board this year learned about Charity for Change and the foundation has donated $20,000 to support programs and promised support for the future. He attended his first year-end assembly Wednesday since learning about Charity for Change.

“I think it’s just fantastic to see the enthusiasm of not only the teachers but the students,” he said. “I was completely blown away. This is where our future is, with these children.”

Chadwick was joined at by other community partners at who support the program at Calusa Park Elementary including Mike Iacampo, Wells Fargo Advisors; Javed Kapadia, Ralph MacNiven, Bill Sever and Kelly Richards, State Farm; Lynda Meeker; Chris Knott, Naples Security Solutions; Joel Kessler, Old Naples News; and the Hon. Caroline Martino, Board Member.

Calusa Park Elementary Principal Lynda Walcott said she was happy to continue the program when she became principal five years ago. “Our students benefit in a variety of ways,” she said. “They learn how to give back to our community through charities that they can support, as well a match component helps with their math skills and teaches them to be kind.”

About Charity for Change

Founded in 2008, Charity for Change brings children together to see past their differences and work together for others in need. Through character education and community engagement, the organization serves children through its afterschool, summer school, preschool, and in-school programs. The goal of Charity for Change is to cultivate confident, compassionate children who become successful learners, contribute to their communities, and participate in society as ethical, employable, fulfilled and self-reliant citizens. For more information, visit www.charityforchange.org