Department of Children and Families
David E. Wilkins
April 23, 2012
DCF: Carrie Hoeppner: 407-264-1379
LCPS: Christopher Patton: 352-267-2104
Central Florida – A third grade class at Eustis Elementary in Lake County is continuing its yearlong project to foster love and kindness among one another by adopting a homeless Seminole County family who came to their attention through a Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) Facebook page.
Third grade Teacher Kelly Raley and her classroom started a project early this school year called "Change your World." Every month the class selects a campaign to help. Previous campaigns have included delivering Valentine's Day cards to local nursing homes in February and collecting donated coats for fellow elementary students in December.
This month, the group of Eustis Elementary third graders partnered up with DCF for a lesson from the heart and will help the Larson family, who were homeless until recent weeks. Through community efforts, as well as their own, the Larsons are now in the stages of stability once again.
"We are really impressed with Mrs. Raley and her classroom," says Bill D'Aiuto, DCF Region Director. "Students learn through books and lesson plans, but experiences like this teach compassion and kindness."
The Homeless 2 Home Facebook page was launched earlier this year as an initiative to provide a direct link to those in the community wanting to support local homeless families with school age children. Response from Central Florida has been overwhelming, including contributions such as notes of encouragement, to housing and employment opportunities. DCF's Homeless 2 Home can be found at www.facebook.com/Homeless2Home.
Facebook is also how the Eustis Elementary third grade class garners support for their monthly campaigns in their "Change your World" campaign. For more information about "Change your World," log on to www.facebook.com/ChangeYourWorldMrsRaleysClass.
"The philosophy behind this project was to teach students compassion, responsibility to their community and to foster love among one another," said Raley, who was Teacher of the Year finalist for Lake County Schools. "I determined that this thrust was going to be the tool I would employ in breaking down needs-oriented walls which potentially were impediments to emotional and academic development. This would then increase their learning capacity this year. The strategy has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams."