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February 12, 2010 - 12:31pm

Genesee County youth aim to rake in change for makin' change

Everybody likes a little friendly competition, right? And if it's for a good cause, all the better!

These guys definitely feel that way:

Half of them are pictured above...

...and here's the other half!

High schoolers from all over Genesee County are getting involved in "Change for Change" (C4C), a fundraising project for United Way of Genesee County. Student government reps from Batavia High School, the NYS State School for the Blind, Oakfield-Alabama High School and Pavillion Central School gathered in the BHS auditorium Yesterday to kick-start the project. 

From Mar. 8-26, the schools will compete to raise as much money as they can and deposit their funds in an account with the Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union (set up for United Way, with a sub-account for each school) every Friday.

BHS government members welcomed their fellow students and gave them the lay of the land (contest rules and stakes, etc.) at Thursday's meeting...

...starting with an icebreaker from treasurer Amanda Jones, who asked representatives of each school to come up with and share a few "fun facts" about their school.

Some interesting ones to consider:

1. O-A HS recently organized a lunch boycott

2. Pavilion is one of the few schools in the state with a pillow tournament

3. The Blind School has a heated pool with a moving floor

4. BHS has the best cookies in the state, inarguably, of course


Handling introductions was co-mayor C.J. Shultz, who introduced his fellow officers and their faculty advisors/helpers as follows:

"There's [mayor] Matt Hoye, who has nothing better to do than keep his beautiful red hair perfectly groomed.

"And next to him is Sahil Jain, our representative to the board of education -- which basically means he makes sure the students' voices are heard at board
meetings. But then he doesn’t get to vote for anything, so it doesn't really matter.

"Then we have the wonderful Amanda Jones, who is our treasurer. We have to trust her with our money. She ran unopposed, so we really didn't have a choice.

"Erica Bucci is our secretary, who takes great notes...when she's

"In the audience is [BHS special education teacher] Mrs. Gammack, who is a great student advisor. Nobody else really wanted the job, so...

"And finally, there's Mrs. Johnson, who is the best statistics teacher at Batavia High…actually, she's the only statistics teacher at Batavia High."

Shultz and Hoye were the brains behind the whole operation, according to Gammack and the other student officers.

"They came to me with this idea in August," Gammack said. "And I thought it sounded great."

The project was inspired by 98 PXY's Penny Challenge, in which BHS students competed (and won!) two years ago. They raised $8,000 in pennies by doing "some crazy things" [crazy in a good way, of course], says UW Campaign Associate Christine Fix.

"We saw the school come together in a way that surpassed any kind of sporting event, school activity, etc.," Hoye said. "We felt that another fundraiser could produce a similar effect, continuing to blur the lines between grade levels and uniting the school as a single body."

"I remember how close our school became during the Penny Challenge," Jones said, "and I really wanted to start that kind of excitement within our school again, with a new group of kids."

During the Penny Challenge, the students saw how powerful a tool competition can be when raising money. This time, they decided to expand the range to include their peers throughout the county.

"I think this is a great way to encourage healthy competition and interaction between our schools," Jones said, "especially since Batavia doesn't participate with the smaller schools in sports very much, since we're in the Monroe County League."

There is another major difference from the 98 PXY fundraiser: this time, they are keeping it local.

"Even though we raised a lot of money [for the Penny Challenge], the proceeds went mostly to agencies in Rochester," Hoye said. "Although we are very proud of our efforts and the money we raised, we would like to see our money used within our own communities in Genesee County."

Representatives from area organizations that will benefit from this fundraiser came to the meeting to express their gratitude and to show the kids how much of a difference they will be making.

UW Regional Manager Lori Stupp pointed out that UW will "fall short of [its] goal this year" in terms of fundraising.

"What you guys are doing is going to help us recuperate some of that loss," she added.

Patricia Kurtz of the Salvation Army -- which receives $57,000 a year from UW -- took a moment to thank the high schoolers for "stepping up to represent [their] schools and to raise money for our community."

"Know how important what you're doing is to us," she added. "I hope this goes to show that when we are united, we are strong, and we can change the world together."

YMCA Regional Director Erik Fix called the C4C fundraising project "a phenomenal thing that speaks volumes about the students in our communities."

"It feels like we're a part of history at BHS," education board rep Jain said. "I feel like the fundraiser will only get bigger and better in the years to come, and to be among the people who started it is an incredible thing."

Students of each school were encouraged to be creative with their fundraisers, which could be anything ranging from competitions between the grades to placing cans at community businesses.

Shultz concluded the meeting on a mobilizing note. First, he quoted Gandhi's famous statement: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Second, he said: "Now get out there and raise as much money as you can. Booyah!"

Stay tuned to The Batavian for updates on C4C's progress, which will be submitted on a weekly basis once the project officially gets started.


Additional Note:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (pictured) and Legislator Jay Grasso came to talk to the students about the importance of civic responsibility and why Genesee County is a great place to live in, thereby encouraging them in their efforts.

jeff crofts
jeff crofts's picture
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Mar 2 2009 - 1:51pm
It's great to see kids so excited and motivated to help their communities. Great article!

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