2-5-13 by Madeline Novey, Fort Collins Coloradoan.
In its first year, the United Way pilot program gathers partners from Bohemian Foundation, local donors and Poudre School District to expose students to a world of giving.
An internal battle brewed within 13-year-old Karson Maitland as she looked down upon her new gray and orange Nike tennis shoes.
A closed office door separated the athletic Lesher Middle School eighth-grader from an adjacent room where about half a dozen clients of the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope typed on computers, some wearing what Maitland described as ragged shoes and socks, compared to her own kicks. Some of the men and women were on the brink of losing their home; others already had.
Grant Gruber, 13, shared in his classmate’s conflicting feelings of shame and appreciation.
A daylong trip to the Fort Collins advocacy center made him realize what he considers garbage “could be someone’s prize” — a torn jacket or worn hiking boots turned barriers against bitter cold. But it also made he and Maitland grateful for what they have and warmed their hearts to the idea of lifelong giving.
The pair are among 18 Lesher students taking part in United Way’s three-year pilot called Give Next. The program takes an adapted, service-learning curriculum and institutes it in local classrooms; four other Poudre School District middle and high schools are participating.