A Lesson In Giving Back


When it comes to making a difference, every little bit helps. Thus was a valuable lesson kids, ages 6 to 12, in the Gamble-Nippert YMCA’s homeschool program learned recently.

For three months they’d been asking their parents to come a little early so they could complete laps around the gym, all on their own initiative. They walked and skipped and hopped, sometimes as much as 10 times around before they started the day’s lesson.

However, this project wasn’t just about getting in shape and having fun, it was about doing something good for other people. For each lap the kids counted, their friends and family pledged them a penny, or contributed a non-perishable food item. Step-by-step, coin-by-coin, the donations added up. By the end, they had collectively raised 10,300 pennies (and 75 pounds of food).

Judy Haverkos, co-coordinator for the Gamble-Nippert YMCA program, said the students chose to give their earnings to Santa Maria Community Services. The food went to the Manna Food Pantry. H.A. Musser, Jr., Santa Maria president explained to the group why their efforts were so important.

Did the kids understand they were doing a good thing? Absolutely! “I like helping people,” said Aiden.

“Community service helps teach them character values and teamwork. Coupling that with having fun while being active is really a great teaching tool,” said Cindy Klopp, the other co-coordinator.

The coin project was just one of many enrichment activities for children in YMCA homeschool programs. Haverkos said their group is studying artists, helping the branch ‘go green’, and learning American Sign Language.

Pictured are kids who helped raise money – Victoria Freudiger; Hannah Musser; Oscar Allen; Aiden Bezdek; Samuel Musser; Nathan DeVoe. David and Rose Homelle; Adriana and Alexandria Norton; Mary Nerswick; and Joe Dupont also helped fund raise but weren’t available for the photo.

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