During the last two weeks in October, Mason Intermediate School's Team Success teamed up with local charity Bake Me Home for a toothpaste drive that will contribute to the charity's "Tote Bag Program." During the campaign, MI sixth graders brought in 250 tubes of toothpaste.
"This seems like something simple to do, but it can make a big difference for a homeless family," said Team Success sixth grader Adrian Jacobs.
Students empathized with families who might be undergoing financial hardship, and reflected about how personal care products are instrumental for families to have dignity and respect.
"I never though about how toothpaste really helps other people. Before learning about [how homeless families might qualify for food stamps but don't have means to pay for personal care items] you could judge if someone has bad breath, or rotten teeth. Like 'he smells, her breath stinks." But they may not have access so you can't judge - you need to help!" said sixth grader Sanjana Nair, who brought in five tubes of toothpaste during the drive.
The teen founders of Bake Me Home presented to Team Success students on Oct. 13 about how they began their own charitable organization. Bake Me Home was established in 2008 by then 7-year-old twin sisters, Amy and Emma Bushman, with help from their mom Alison. Bake Me Home grew from their desire to do something more for the homeless family shelter where they had volunteered together for 3 years.
The students were also moved by seeing the impact of the teens' charity work.
"A lot of people think kids can't do big things. But this is an example where kids can do big stuff and help make a different," said Nair. "Even though this started out as a team fundraiser, I think our bigger lesson is that we can do acts of kindness even when it is over. You don't need a reward to do good things. You keep doing good things because it makes YOU feel good!"
The "Tote Bag Program" was started to help families leaving shelters celebrate the beginning of a new life in a new home. The first Tote Bag was delivered in October 2008, and today this program serves more than 750 families per year from 14 agencies in four Ohio counties. To date, Bake Me Home has provided more than 3,500 Tote Bags to families!