North American young people have been empowered to raise money in their own unique way to support their counterparts in Africa, thanks to a unique nonprofit based from Chicago.
Kids Caring 4 Kids (KC4K) is betting on the power and compassion of youth to make a difference in the lives of some of the 12 million AIDS orphaned children in Africa. The charity has developed the “i care 2” kit to encourage kids and young people to take action and get involved.
Five years ago, an 11-year-old named Kendall Ciesemier of suburban Chicago saw an “Oprah Special” where orphaned young girls her own age were scratching out an existence—caring for younger brothers and sisters following the deaths of their parents to AIDS. She was so deeply moved by their plight that she took all of her money to sponsor one child for a year. Knowing that other kids would also be moved, Ciesemier created Kids Caring 4 Kids, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging support from young people.
Ciesemier knows what it’s like to overcome challenging circumstances. Born with a rare liver disease, she has undergone two liver transplants, and set the charity in motion while under treatment. “Watching Oprah, I saw children walking miles to go to school and get fresh water, and cooking and caring for their young siblings. I had loving parents to care for me, but these kids in Africa who lost their parents have no one,” said Ciesemier. “I wanted to make a difference in one kid’s life. But I knew I could change so many more lives with a little help.”
Today her goal is to inspire kids to join a cause bigger than themselves because, “It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.” That message is the centerpiece of the “i care 2” campaign that provides North American kids with resources to get involved and raise money in their own way, in their own community.
The “i care 2” Kit
To encourage young people across North America to take action to bring hope and care to children in Africa, Kids Caring 4 Kids created the “i care 2” kit with everything groups and individual kids need to host their own fundraiser, including:
• DVD with Ciesemier’s inspiring story and that of AIDS orphaned children in Africa, plus how and why kids can make a difference
• Ready…Set…Go! – a step-by-step guide to creating and implementing a fundraiser or service project
• CD-Rom with ideas for fund raisers, publicity and promotion, teacher enrichment activities, posters and flyers that can be printed and distributed, and more
• KC4K T-shirt and poster to announce events
“The real idea behind the ‘i care 2’ kit is to empower and encourage kids and young people to care and take action,” said Ciesemier. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them to be successful in their efforts to make a difference for children in Africa. The kit, she says, is an ideal resource for students, teachers, PTAs, and youth groups.
Each kit is sent out by request through KidsCaring4Kids.org at no cost. (The only request is that if a person doesn’t use the kit that they pass it to someone who will or consider a suggested donation to KC4K to help cover the cost.)
Funds raised by Kids Caring 4 Kids support organizations such as:
• World Bicycle Relief: KC4K has donated funds to provide children who live far from school with bikes to enable them to get to school quickly and safely, and to help their families make a living.
• World Vision: KC4K funds the drilling of water wells and boreholes in Zambian communities. Clean water helps keep them alive.
• Touch a Life Foundation: KC4K is partnering with Touch A Life to care for child slaves rescued in Ghana—providing them with daily needs of food, shelter, education, and health care.
• Kerus Global Education: KC4K funds helped build and outfit the new Kerus Orphan Care Center in South Africa that will eventually serve 100 children daily.
• Bright Hope International: In Zambia, KC4K built a dorm to house orphan girls and provided weekly nutritional meals and food supplements to 600+ orphans, widows and AIDS patients.
• Hope for Life Center (Kenya): KC4K contributed to build a community center in Nakuru, Kenya, a region swelling with AIDS orphans, and has provided regular feeding programs.
The Story of Kids Caring 4 Kids
Founded in 2004 by then 11-year-old Kendall Ciesemier, Kids Caring 4 Kids is a registered 501(c)3 organization. The charity caught the attention of national media and Ciesemier landed on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2007, accompanied by President Bill Clinton. She was also named One of America’s Top Ten Youth Volunteers by the Prudential Foundation in 2007. Her initial goal to raise one million dollars to support for AIDS orphans has inspired several thousand students and adults to raise funds through penny wars, service projects, basketball tournaments, karaoke contests, bake sales, donations and other creative activities. Kids Caring 4 Kids has already raised more than $750,000 to help fund programs serving children impacted by the AIDS epidemic in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Ethiopia. Monies have helped to build orphan care centers, drill boreholes for clean water, fund daily feeding programs, provide bikes and school uniforms, shelter rescued children, and more.
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