Staying in Character

“No matter how insignificant what you do may seem, it is important that you do it.”                                                  Gandhi

We live in a society that is very often obsessed with individual beauty, accomplishments, and status.  Our “look at me” mentality has produced a generation that needs to be reminded that there are people in each of our communities who are hurting and experiencing real need.  Recognizing and then taking action to meet those needs can be a life-changing experience.  I have always found teenagers to be among some of the most compassionate and giving people in the world.  All they need is some direction and encouragement from the adults in their lives and they can accomplish great things.

When you organize a charitable activity as part of one of your classes or through your local FCCLA chapter, you are setting three important chain reactions into motion:

  1. You are nurturing your students to connect with the world around them and to view those in need with compassion.  The joy and satisfaction that they experience from helping others is something they will carry with them throughout their lives and which may make them more caring adults.
  2. The recipients of your efforts will obviously benefit from the donations raised or products produced through your students’ charitable activity.
  3. You will be able to publicize the charitable event and your students’ efforts which will highlight the value of your program and the content that you teach.

I hope you don’t find the suggestion that you plan a charitable event to improve the image of your program crass or inappropriate.  I would never recommend that you organize such an event simply for publicity purposes.  That’s what corporate America often does, but we’re better than that.  I’m simply pointing out that an event or project that helps meet a societal need can be a winning endeavor for all parties involved.

There are more projects and charities that relate to the FACS curriculum than I could ever hope to share in this post.  I will mention some of the ones I have had personal experience with and that I feel best lend themselves to student participation.  In addition to this list, I suggest you contact your local service organizations to explore the potential for getting your students involved in a more community-based project.

The best place to start the list of potential projects is with the FCCLA National Outreach Project.  The current project involves a partnership with Share Our Strength, an organization dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in America.  To learn more about this project go to  the FCCLA website.

If you teach food preparation or culinary arts courses, consider organizing your students to bake for a good cause.  Two great websites where you will find everything you need to stage a successful event can be found at Bake to End Childhood Hunger and Cupcakes for a Cause

good egg project

The Good Egg Project is  sponsored by America’s egg farmers to help fight childhood hunger.  Your students will learn a lot about eggs and their uses in recipes while they’re encouraging farmers to donate eggs to local food banks.

feeding america

Another great project involving food is to stage a virtual food drive through Feeding America.  Learn how by visiting their website.  This one not only supports the fight against hunger but it also demonstrates the “High Tech Home Ec” side of FACS.

The following list of projects would fit perfectly into a Parenting, Child Care, Family Relations and Child Development curriculum.

Operation Shower throws baby showers for military moms-to-be.  In its five-year existence, the group has hosted events for more than 400 women.

Our Military Kids raises money to provide grants for sports, arts, and tutoring programs for the kids of National Guard and Reserve members. 

The holidays are one of the most appropriate times to get your students involved in a charitable project.  Toys for Tots is a charitable program of  the  U.S. Marine Corps dedicated to providing toys to needy kids.  Snowball Express coordinates a holiday celebration for children of troops who’ve died while serving our country.

room to read

Room to Read is a nonprofit that focuses on encouraging education in the developing world.  The slogan of the foundation is “World change starts with educated children.”  On their website you’ll find a variety of interesting projects that will enable you and your students to connect with kids around the world.

Finally, Service Learning Projects can be an enriching part of the FACS curriculum.  There are many project ideas as well as funding sources available on the Service Learning website.

I hope this post has inspired you to consider developing a charitable project with your students.  Don’t forget that marketing your FACS program through sharing your students’ efforts is an important aspect of this activity.  Always have a camera on hand to snap lots of photos of your students at work.  Share the preparatory process as well as the event itself through all your social media outlets.  Spread the word about the value and impact of FACS!

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