The Power of Youth Grants
PureFun, Empty Bowls and Sheriff's Camp
The Teens About Serving the County (TASC) Youth Grants Committee provided grants to help fund a PureFun event, an Empty Bowls fundraiser, and the Henry County Sheriff’s Youth Camp among other programs.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Knightstown High School submitted a grant to bring PureFun Life Conferences to their school. Today’s teenagers are immersed in a culture that bombards them with the message that making wrong moral choices is the best way to have fun. PureFun connects with pre-teens and teenagers on their level, using the gateway of entertainers, comedians and keynote speakers to enable them to hear the message that wrong moral choices may seem to be fun, but always have consequences that make life more complex, less enjoyable and often tragic.
PureFun President Dr. John Hunt stated, “Many kids say, I just intended to have fun, but it resulted in… pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, drinking and driving, drug possession and arrests with a police record for life. These kids never intended to have these consequences; they just wanted to have fun. We wanted to do programs in schools to impact this generation locally and address this matter of having fun, ‘pure’ fun.”
According to Hunt, “If kids have fun, laugh and bond for 10-15 minutes, they focus better, and are then more receptive and ready to listen.” Speakers then share their own experiences through straight talk about the reality of the consequences that follow the choices they make. The PureFun presenters were power lifter Jason Quellhorst, Jillian Mailtlen and main attraction Maurice “Kojak” Fuller at daytime assemblies for Knightstown Intermediate and Knightstown High Schools. An additional program was held at night, which included a parent session. Local business owner and parent Mark Haase said, “PureFun is great exposure for schools. It’s not always something parents can do on their own; it takes the whole community coming together to help out. I think we are having an impact and making a difference.”
Another TASC grant helped fund the fourth annual Knightstown High School Full Hearts Filling Empty Bowls fundraiser in 2008. To raise money, Knightstown High School students created ceramic bowls in art class. Those bowls along with soup cooked by KHS consumer arts and sciences students were then sold to hungry customers. The proceeds from this event benefited the Knightstown Cheer Guild and Knightstown Community Food Pantry.
According to Empty Bowls Co-Organizer Rachael Shepherd, “We started our version of the Empty Bowls dinners in 2005 with a $700 grant from TASC. That first year, we were able to make 100 bowls, serve dinner to 100 people and donate $500 each to the Knightstown Cheer Guild and the Knightstown Area Food Pantry. During that first year, we held a silent auction of donated items to increase the amount of start-up money available for the following year.” TASC provided grant funding again the second year and 200 bowls were made, 200 people served and donations doubled to $1,000 per organization. As a result of increased productivity, expenses continue to rise. Shepherd indicated, “We are not totally self-sufficient, but we have tried to raise the majority of the money ourselves. We would love to reach the point where we don’t need to rely on any money from TASC, but so far, we have needed and appreciated their contribution each year.”
TASC also granted funds for the Henry County Sheriff’s Youth Camp. While participating in the camp, kids were exposed to law enforcement personnel, including patrolmen, detectives, prosecutors, K-9 and other special units as well as fire, and emergency medical personnel. They toured a courtroom, the jail, patrol vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, an air evacuation helicopter, and learned about other safety equipment and procedures. They experienced the physical regimen of running, push-ups, rock climbing, scuba and other special training for search and water rescue. They listened to speakers, socialized, ate, and slept at the W.G. Smith Building and conducted many of the training exercises at Memorial Park, including an explosives demonstration at the Saddle Club. Youth also enjoyed fun activities at other local venues such as bowling and dancing at the Rose Bowl, riding in rescue boats at Summit Lake, skating at Gibson Arena, and playing basketball and swimming at the YMCA.
In a letter to the community foundation and the TASC committee, Sheriff Butch Baker wrote, “The camp was another wonderful experience for all involved. Your generous donation helped in the creation of a successful learning environment for 120 campers. The camp provides a structured learning experience, complemented by physical activity and opportunities for fun. You are investing wisely in Henry County’s future!”