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Vol. LXV, No. 49
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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Kids4Kids Website Challenges Youngsters To Create a Better World for the Needy

Ellen Gilbert

“If a I had a dime for every parent who asked, ‘how can I kids get my kids involved?’ HomeFront would be rich,” said Women’s Initiative Advisory Board member Amy Vogel recently. While adult volunteers are more than welcome at HomeFront, a Trenton-based non-profit that seeks to end homelessness in Mercer County, there really wasn’t any call for children. Many youngsters are eager to help, though, and Ms. Vogel, a mother of three, came up with a solution.

“Kids4Kids” ( is planned as a child-friendly website that will help children who want to give back to other local kids who are homeless or in need. It will include age-appropriate ideas for kids from kindergarten through high school to do alone, with friends, or with their schools, clubs, or teams. It will be accessible soon through the main HomeFront website.

The first order of business for youngsters accessing the website, said Ms. Vogel, will be signing on by agreeing to the credo, “ I will work to make sure there are no homeless kids in my community.” After that, a “very interactive” platform will offer ideas, movies, books, and other materials designed to “make kids socially conscious.” With a logo designed by Chicago-based graphic designer Mary Ellen Ottenstein and technology by Carol Vrtis, another Chicago-based professional, Kids4Kids promises to be a class act.

Teachers at the Dutch Neck School in West Windsor attended by Ms. Vogel’s nine-year-old twin daughters have already embraced Kids4Kids by spearheading school-wide projects, like a “Rock-a-thon,” to benefit HomeFront. Students also listened to HomeFront representatives talk about other children, only a few miles away, who don’t have homes. Ms. Vogel hopes to spread the word among other area schools by working with PTOs and involving teachers and staff.

Ideas carried on the Kids4Kids website will include detailed suggestions and specific tools for making fund-raising projects work. “I love projects that kids can feel,” enthused Ms. Vogel. “A backpack collection, prom dress drives, Valentine’s Day cards, a lemonade stand; these are all events where they can see results.”

Ms. Vogel and HomeFront volunteer Lisa Smukler founded the The Women’s Initiative three years ago. Its mission is to get 1,000 women who will each contribute $100. Ms. Vogel reported that they are now at the 500 mark and are optimistic about reaching their goal. The experience led Ms. Vogel to challenge her children by pointing out that “we started the Women’s Initiative; you could do something similar.”

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