• Updated: Feb. 16, 2017
    Streams to host 13th Annual Children for Children event

    Streams Students The Streams Elementary School community celebrated its 13th annual Children for Children event on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in the school’s gymnasium. The event celebrated a two-month-long community service project and offered crafts, activities, a bake sale and a silent auction.

    This year all proceeds from the event benefit Connecting Children with Champions, founded by Upper St. Clair graduate Sidney Kushner. The nonprofit assists children with cancer through the developmental and social challenges that accompany the illness. The journey begins with one question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The child is then matched with a volunteer who is a fitting inspiration for what he/she wants to become. Volunteers become a source of companionship, friendship, excitement and hope.

    With the slogan, “A Simple Act Can Make a Difference,” the Streams’ Children for Children community service initiative was first launched in the 2004-05 school year when a small group of parents approached Principal Dr. Claire Miller about developing a child-focused, child-driven charity event. The goal was simple: expose students to other children in the world who are in need, and show them how they, themselves, can make a difference.

    Students participated in all aspects of organizing and running the Children for Children event. They decorated, sold tickets and ran games. In addition, many of the silent auction items were student-made, such as hand-knitted hats and scarves, baked goods and art creations, as well as student services including babysitting, dog walking and yard work.

    For Dr. Miller, the founding mission that even a simple act can make a difference and, specifically, that KIDS can make a difference, especially for other kids, makes this event truly special.

    “The activities at our event are ‘run’ by kids and for kids. The goods and services offered are often made by our students or performed by them,” Dr. Miller said. “I love the sense of empowerment that our event fosters in young children in this way.”

    In addition to raising money during the event, classrooms competed in a competitive coin collection and students sought contributions from local businesses.

    “Our coin collection resulted in a massive hallway graph to follow our progress,” Dr. Miller said. “Another group of students practiced their phone communication skills by making donor request calls to a select group of local businesses. A local bank, Community Bank, even donated manpower hours to help with rolling all the coins!”

    Each year, the school selects a different charitable organization – the only prerequisite is that the organization must help children. Since 2005, the Children for Children initiative has raised nearly $75,000 to benefit 14 local, regional, national and international organizations. Charities include UNICEF Tsunami Relief, Katrina School Fund, CORE Organ, Dominican Republic Outreach Program, Heifer International, National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple, Casey’s Clubhouse, CharityWater, Jameson’s Army, Grady’s All Stars, The Education Partnership, Global Links, Our Clubhouse and Beverly’s Birthdays.

    While the evening event served as the culminating activity of the initiative, lots of work, planning and learning took place during the weeks before.

    “We try to weave opportunities for student learning throughout the event. A team of staff members collaborates to design a series of classroom mini-lessons that expand upon the mission of our adopted charity,” Dr. Miller explained. “This year they have focused on various acts of kindness, from a letter writing challenge to putting together buddy bags filled with donated arts and crafts supplies.”

    The Buddy Bags, stocked with art supplies, are distributed to children battling cancer who are involved with the Connecting Children with Champions organization.

    “I was working with a group of fourth graders to decorate and assemble the craft bags and the best quote of the morning was ‘wow the kids will be so excited to get one of these bags and it makes me feel so good!’,” Mrs. Hallie Snyder, Streams Elementary parent volunteer, said. “I love that we are teaching the students that it is important to help people in our community and it also feels really good at the same time!”

    Prior to the evening event, students celebrated their progress during an afternoon assembly and continued their enthusiasm all week with special themed days.

    “Students and staff members learned a special musical piece, which included sign language, for our assembly,” Dr. Miller said. “Each day this week has a special 'dress up' theme. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when students are being asked to dress for their dream career! Maybe I'll see lots of future elementary school principals walking the halls!”