Make a Difference This Summer
By Annabel Strauss
“I’m sorry, school’s over. We can’t help you.” This is the line I heard over and over again last week, as I called schools in NYC trying to get them involved in the 20k Kids Campaign. As the development intern at the Coalition for the Homeless I was put in charge of raising awareness about the 20k kids campaign and recruiting schools to participate. Once someone picked up the phone, I would ask if their school would be able to help us out in getting more signatures. However, the administrators that I reached in the main office always seemed very unenthusiastic. I quickly realized that it was unrealistic: expecting a school to get a couple hundred kids to sign a petition within the last two days of the year. So, I decided to stop my search for the willing public school, and instead move on to summer programs.
The first program I called was Ramapo, a day camp 40 minutes outside of the city that many New York kids attend. The staffer that I spoke with seemed excited about the petition, and asked how his camp could get involved. I explained that we would send hard copies of the petition, which he could put up in a central place, such as the dining hall. That way, during lunch, kids could go up and sign it. It wouldn’t be mandatory, but encouraged. I also mentioned that I could send some 20k “swag”, including bracelets, stickers, and pins. From there, I called many more summer programs, including Chelsea Piers Camp, LIU Brooklyn Children’s Academy, and Prep for Prep. Since most of these programs were just starting for the summer, the people in charge were more willing to introduce the petition, as opposed to the public schools that were just finishing. But once the petitions go up, it will be up to the kids to choose if they will sign it or not.
So kids, how can you take a stand? How can you help? Well, lets say you go to one of the summer camps we have reached out to. You’re eating lunch, having fun with your friends, and then you spot the petition hanging up on the wall. It’s there, but are you going to go sign it? Yes, you decide you will. You get up to take a look, and your friends say “Hey! What are you doing?” You ignore them because you’re reading the petition statement, and then you write your name, grade, school, and borough. You call your friends over, “Com’ere! It’s a great cause!” And they come over. At first they’re apathetic; they don’t really have any interest. But once they read the statement, they’re signing and calling everyone else over to sign it too! Now you feel great because you know that you just helped homeless kids your age throughout the city. You can go home tonight to your own bed, but they have to sleep in a shelter, crammed in with many other people. You have just raised the number of signatures on this huge petition, and gotten us one step closer to getting homeless children out of shelters and into real homes.
Twenty-one thousand. There are over 21,000 children – students just like you and me – living in NYC homeless shelters. They need your help. Sign the petition.
P.S. If your camp or summer program isn’t involved – let us know or ask them to join the 20k Campaign yourself! We are happy to send any materials and information they need to start getting signatures as soon as possible!