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1,300 Elementary School Kids Lending a Helping Hand Through Art

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Local charity, inspired by elementary student, is raising money for charities and schools by selling greeting cards adorned with kid's artwork

The Helping Holiday Greeting Card Program is assisting more than 1,300 elementary school students from Walnut Elementary and Sycamore Canyon School in Newbury Park, CA to use their artwork to raise money for their respective schools and Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County. The program has raised almost $2,000. It is sponsored by Friendly Neighborhood Helpers, a nonprofit fundraising organization that helps kids raise money for their schools and selected charities.

Friendly Neighborhood Helpers donates $940 to Habitat for Humanity

(Photo, from left to right: Brian Buck - FNH, Amy Hastings - Principal Walnut Elementary, Dr. Jon Sand - Principal Sycamore Canyon, Stacy Swanson - Exec. Director Habitat for Humanity Ventura County, Michelle Buck - FNH, Julie Nerland - PTSA President Sycamore Canyon, Julie Carton - PTA Walnut Elementary, Elana Summers - PTA President Walnut Elementary; holding the check: Kennedy Buck (left) and Cooper Buck (right))

The Helping Holiday Greeting Card Program takes holiday-themed drawings by K-5 students and turns them into holiday cards. When the cards are purchased, the proceeds (up to 40 percent of the sale price) will be divided between the student's school and Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County.

"Parents and families will share creative memories for a lifetime," says Dr. Jon Sand, principal at Sycamore Canyon School. "As a principal and parent, I appreciate the wonderful purpose and benefits of the Holiday Greeting Card Program sponsored by Friendly Neighborhood Helpers." Dr. Sand is an enthusiastic supporter of Friendlies and knows the program well, as it was inspired by one of his third-grade students, Kennedy -- my daughter.

Two springs ago, when Kennedy was in the first grade, she was concerned about news reports regarding the Gulf Coast oil spill and wanted to do something to help. She drew a picture of the Earth and wanted to make copies to sell in order not only to raise money to help cleanup the spill, but also to assist other charities and her school. She also wanted to invite her friends to do the same; together, they all could help.

Our family developed the business plan, filed for charity status, and began work on www.friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org. Kennedy inspired the concept, created the logo, named the organization (after a play she did in Kindergarten), and has been involved every step of the way. The basic concept: students (K-12) upload their artwork to the organization's website; people purchase the artwork in a variety of mediums (shirts, mugs, stickers, framed art, etc.); and all of the proceeds are divided between the student's school and a charity selected by the student.

Amy Hastings, principal at Newbury Park's Walnut Elementary School, learned of Kennedy's endeavor when she was working at Sycamore Canyon. In fact, Principal Hasting's idea for partnering with Friendlies to do holiday cards was the genesis for the Helping Holiday Greeting Cards Program.

We were very excited to be able to coordinate this program with both schools. It's great to see so many people wanting to help the schools and a great organization like Habit for Humanity. The power of Friendly Neighborhood Helpers is that charitable organizations can come together to help one another while also helping kids contribute in a way that is so easy and familiar to them.

The really interesting element to this program is the benefit the non-profits receive working together. Typically a school's fundraising is limited to its families and a charity is limited to its constituents. Through Friendly Neighborhood Helpers we are able to expand the reach of both non-profit's fundraising by bringing the two non-profits together and promoting the shared program to both non-profit's fundraising circles. The net result is that each non-profit is able to fundraise far beyond their typical donors.

To support the Helping Holiday Greeting Card program, visit:

http://friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.zenfolio.com/habitatforhumanity_vc

As Dr. Sand points out, "Students at Sycamore Canyon School and Walnut Elementary, and the Ventura County Habitat for Humanity enterprise, will equally benefit for years to come."

"I hope that other kids will get involved," said Kennedy. "It's so easy to do and we all like drawing pictures. The holiday pictures were fun to see -- some of the kids are really good artists!" Kennedy's very proud of what she's started and loves to see not only her art on the site, but also the art of her friends and people she doesn't know.

About Friendly Neighborhood Helpers
These charities and many more can be helped at our website called Friendly Neighborhood Helpers (www.friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org). At Friendly Neighborhood Helpers, a student (K-12) uploads artwork to the site, where people can purchase it in a variety of mediums (shirts, mugs, stickers, framed art, etc.). All of the proceeds are then divided among the student's school and a charity selected by the student.

To get more info, go to any one of the following places:

Our Web site: www.friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org
Email us at: info@friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org
Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/FNHelpers)
Follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/fnhelpers)

If you'd like to make a donation to help us further our cause, you can do so at friendlyneighborhoodhelpers.org/donate.cfm