Above, David Dunn explains operations of Just For Kids at FreeMusic Festival 2011. 
Photos by Jacqueline Leapheart
Article by Noah Essenmacher

The Just For Kids Foundation is shifting its summer fundraising efforts into high gear with its Camero Raffle. Raising more than $2,500 at the recent Free MusicFest, the foundation now plans to continue its fundraising at the River Roar June 24-25. During the STYX concert, Just For Kids continue selling tickets Camero Raffle for $100 each.

A drawing to determine the top ten winners is to be held Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. at Maier & Associates Accounting Services. The drawing for prizes among the top ten winners is to be held on Oct. 20 during the annual fundraiser and benefit dinner at Horizons Center. Seven winners each will receive a $500 prize, and the runner up will receive $1,000. The grand prize winner will receive a choice of either a Camero or $30,000.

Each raffle ticket sold helps Just for Kids meet the needs of children and teens while fostering in them the spirit of citizenship, service and self-worth. This Maier & Associates charitable foundation takes a new approach to giving: instead of an application process, the organization asks members of the community let them know about children and teens in need. Just for Kids then looks for ways to match the efforts of agencies, companies, and the community at large as a way of teaching others how to help in meeting the needs of those children.

Not all children are eligible for or are fully helped by assistance programs and charities. That’s why Just For Kids is focused on ensuring “each child has the same opportunities, the same encouragement and the same belief in him or herself – regardless of the choices made by their parents.” Executive director Carrie Dahlberg and a volunteer board review each of these giving opportunities on a case-by-case basis and make the final decision on each donation. The foundation bears no administrative overhead cost, and all the money donated supports children through programs such as the Bike Drop, Shoe Shopping Extravaganza, and Kids Who Care.

“Personally, the one the means the most to me is Kids Who Care,” says David Dunn of Just For Kids. “We give a laptop to a student going from eighth grade into ninth grade.” The program looks for students who display qualities of good leadership and “an excellent contribution to society.” Dunn says the students the foundation awards work hard but are often forgotten among their peers.

“You get to see the excitement in their eyes, and you see their peers gasp. They have a look of happiness, even though they’ve had a rough time. It says ‘someone cares about me.’”

Just For Kids considers the students’ academic achievements and goals for the future, as well as the impact those students make in their community.

“Our goal is just as simple. To reward kids for trying their best, because that effort is essential in building the self-worth of our young people.”

© Noah Essenmacher, 2011