Young Philanthropy groups from Grundy County schools donate $20K to local nonprofits

Students from Morris Community High School present representatives from the Children's Advocacy Center of Grundy County with a check for $500.

Students from Coal City, Morris, Gardner-South Wilmington and Seneca high schools made their decisions on how to split $5,000 among local nonprofit organizations Monday night.

The students come to their decision based on presentations they’ve seen from the many area nonprofits as part of the Community Foundation of Grundy County’s Young Philanthropy program. For the students, it provided an opportunity for them to make a difference in the blind spots in their community.

“For our donations, we really wanted to focus on our community specifically, and things within our school that we personally see impacts on,” said Colin Schimandle, a student at Coal City. “We see Beans-and-Bites. Our students personally are in there. They’re in our school, and we felt that was really important.”

Coal City student Jordan Olson agreed.

“We also noticed there were people struggling with income who needed food, so we chose the backpack program for that,” Olson said. “And then AMBUCS, we saw there were disabilities and thought it’d be a good iea for people to get bikes and be able to ride bikes, because not every kid gets to.”

AMBUCS is a nationwide non-profit community service organization that aims to help people with challenges related to mobility and independence. It provides accessible bikes to those in need. The Coal City students provided $1,000 to AMBUCS, $1,700 to the Coal City Backpack Program, $1,300 to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grundy County, and $1,000 to Beans-and-Bites.

Gracie Nelson, a Morris Community High School student, said the presentations gave her group real world examples of organizations that help their community. From there, they decided where to donate the money. It helped, Nelson said, to know exactly what the money would be put toward.

Students from Coal City High School present representatives from Beans-and-Bites with a check for $1,000.

“I know that the CASA organization gave some great examples of where the money would be put to use and that really hit close to home,” Nelson said. “I know a lot of children need help, and I felt the need to give money there. So did my peers.”

The Morris Community High School gave $3,000 to CASA of River Valley, $1,500 to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grundy County and $500 to the Community Nutrition Network.

The students from Gardner-South Wilmington split their money among many organizations, donating $750 to We Care of Grundy County, $1,200 to Catholic Charities, $700 to the Gardner-South Wilmington Student Assistance Fund, $700 to Beans-and-Bites, $250 to Just Animals of Mazon and $400 to the Grundy County Transit System.

These students also donated $1,000 to the village of Gardner to cover the Gardner Lions Club’s portion of the price in restoring the Lions water fountain in Downtown Gardner as a thanks for all the help the Lions Club has provided to students in the past.

The Seneca High School students, who couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, awarded grants to Grundy Area PADS for $2,500 and CASA of River Valley for $2,500.

Devan Gagliardo, the Program Director for the Community Foundation of Grundy County, goes from school-to-school from October to April to talk to the students about nonprofits, what it means to be a nonprofit, and what it means to serve on a board, going over priorities and topics that the students are interested in.

“So, a students group might say they’re really interested in animals or mental health or youth development, so I give them a list of organizations and a short overview of what they do,” Gagliardo said. “Then the students pick which organizations they would like to come speak, and the organizations come and present.”

The organizations present to the students, explaining what they’re all about and asking any questions the students may have.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News