Students at Kewaskum High School are making a difference. By Dona Miotke

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March 2, 2017 – Kewaskum, WI – Students raised $2,400.14 and with the Kewaskum Business Community support were able to give $5,400.14 back to local charities.  The Kewaskum High School junior and senior students in the two Leadership Classes, second trimester have just finished the Main Street Philanthropy Program;  11 weeks of meeting once a week in class learning about philanthropy and charities.

Kewaskum High School and The Silbernagel Group partnered with Main Street Philanthropy to use philanthropy and giving as tools to instill values and life skills in the students, and to inspire the next generation of “philanthropists in training” by helping students enjoy the gift of serving and giving.

The first thing students did was to match their personal passions with compatible charitable cause.  Elder care, environment protection, social justice and people with physical and mental disabilities were some of the twenty passions that the students choose from.  Students were then put in groups of four or five that matched their personal passions.  They learned about the history of philanthropy and taxation.

They discussed trust and build on team trust in creating a fund raiser using their own resources.   They developed a business plan to execute their fund-raiser including having a purpose and mission.

There were nine fund raisers going on in the two classes during January and February.  Some of the fund raisers included making, selling and delivering valentines to fellow classmates; a 50–50 raffle during halftime at basketball games; and selling yogurt at lunch time.

At the same time, teams are investigating charities that support their passion.  Students contact local charities that support the team passions and evaluate them quantitatively and qualitatively.  IRS Forms 990 and 990-EZ are studied and analyzed for the non-profit organizations.

Terms as program ratio, management ratio and sustainability are terms the students become comfortable with.    Leadership traits are increased when the students do cold calls, visit the organization and ask questions, and volunteer at the organization.

Each team then selects two organizations to participate in a panel discussion with other charities at Kewaskum High School.  This helps each team to decide which organization/s their hard earned fund raising money will be donated to.

Students also interview mentors, family and friends in the process asking them questions as the lessons learned from money and what is important to living a fulfilling life.  Students get a better insight as to what is important in life and the importance of giving back.

Organizations that were chosen by the students this year included:  American Legion-Kewaskum; Fire Victims of Kewaskum; Food Pantry of Kewaskum; Friends of Abuse-Washington County; JDRF; Make- a- Wish; Shalom Wildlife Zoo; Threshold of Washington County; and Walleyes for Tomorrow.

This program would not have happened without the generous support of the business community.  The generous donors included:  Gruber Tool and Die and The Silbernagel Group in the Gold Category; Coffee Corner, Kettle Moraine Gardens, Kewaskum Veterinary Clinic, Lions’ Club, P & C Bank,  and Westbury Bank in the Silver Category; Cousin Subs, Hon-e-Kor, Ogi Chiropractic, Hair on Main, Sunburst Ski, Voss Insurance and Women’s Club in the Bronze Category and Bonnie Bell Motel, Gateway, Goeden’s Auto Body Service & Towing, K & D Evacuating, Kewaskum Floral,  Kewaskum Frozen Foods,  LK Heating and Air Conditioning, The Candy Tree in the Friends Category.  Money donors gave to the program is divided up among the charities the students chose, allowing the donation to be larger and do more good.

One of the big lessons that the students learn is that charity and philanthropy are not the same and philanthropy is not limited to the wealthy.

Students requested each charity chosen be very specific as to how the money was going to be spent.  Examples included the Kewaskum Food Pantry giving Easter candy and Fish to families, the Variety Club helping a child in the Kewaskum School district and Make –a-Wish helping to grant a wish to a child in Washington County.

Casey Scheel, teacher of the Leadership class said,  “The students learn you can make a difference in your community without millions of dollars.  You use a can do attitude and talent.  The charities see what the students did, that encourages them to do more.”

Dona Miotke, ambassador for the program agreed.  “The students learn about themselves in this program, see what needs there are in the community and experience the joy of giving-time, talent and money, what a way to learn about being a better citizen of Kewaskum.”

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