Students come together ‘For the Kids’

For the second year in a row, two Oswego State seniors are making it their mission to unite the community and raise money for victims of child abuse.

What started with an idea last April, Denvol Haye, a member of Delta Kappa Kappa, and Eli Kim-Swallow of the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team organized For the Kids last year, an all-day event at The Shed including games, live music, food and a silent auction. They raised about $3,700 that went toward the Children Advocacy Center of Oswego County and made such an impact, they decided to do it again this year.

“The money went toward different services for these kids and seeing how much it benefitted the CAC, we knew that this had to be something we did more than once,” Haye said. “Everyone had such a great time, it didn’t even really feel like we were doing anything. We were just having a good time for a good cause and we want to do it again.”

The CAC of Oswego County is a non-profit organization that provides a safe, child-friendly site for the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse. Both Haye and Kim-Swallow have worked closely with the CAC’s licensed mental health counselor and Oswego Alumni, Melanie Proper to organize For the Kids.

“With the CAC too, after one year, we built a relationship with every one of them and we see how much of an impact they do on these kids’ lives and we want to help them as well because this will be a CAC Oswego State thing for as long as we do it because of the impact they have on this community,” Kim-Swallow said.

Haye and Kim-Swallow said, when visiting the CAC in Oswego County, they saw the organization’s impact first hand. When walking into the center, they saw a wall covered in hand prints of children and their names and the single digit ages that belong to them. These hand prints belong to the children the center has helped in some way. The center informed them that Oswego County is the No.1 county for reported child abuse in the state.

“You walk in there and you see the hand prints and the ages and it breaks your heart every time you walk in there,” Kim-Swallow said. “It hurts but it is a motivation. We walked out and said ‘I’m excited. Let’s get going, let’s do this.’ We are going to make it bigger and better and it is solely for the handprint of those kids that’s solely what it is all about.”

Unlike last year, For the Kids plans to host several events in hopes of raising $10,000 for the CAC. This is leading up to April 11 when they will invite the whole community for food, games, live music and a silent auction at Cheap Seats.

The first event is free skating with the Lakers on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Marano Campus Center Arena to not only raise money but to promote the upcoming events and the CAC. This includes free admission and skate rental for kids under the age of 17. The next event will be hosted at Lighthouse Lanes. “Bowl with the Lakers” is open to the community on March 3.

Haye and Kim-Swallow emphasize their desires to expand their efforts and to target different places in the community so For the Kids can grow and appeal to a wide range of people.

“We wanted to get every demographic possible, to an 8-year-old kid to an 80-year-old woman that wants to come out and have a good time,” Kim-Swallow said. “We are trying to portray that it is not only for the college but for the community as a whole and incorporating them as much as possible.”

Eventually, they foresee For the Kids not only being something that involves Delta Kappa Kappa and the men’s ice hockey team but something that continues throughout the years by the whole Oswego State Campus for the CAC.

“This is primarily about bringing the community together for a just cause,” Haye said. “Years down the line we want to look at this and maybe For the Kids will be raising $20,000 for the CAC. In order for this to grow and to have a future, you need to get more people involved.”

Haye and Kim-Swallow have formed a committee of eight men to promote and organize the event. This year, they have developed new ways to market the events and the cause.

They have made an effort to improve in creating the event. This year they started the year off with planning for these events. They created a Facebook page that currently has 927 likes in a matter of eight days as well as more advertisements involving facts about the CAC.

“I’m most excited for the impact we are going to have this time around,” Haye said. “Last time, For the Kids left a little ripple. This time around, I want it to be cemented in people’s minds that For the Kids is always a great time and is always a good cause and that every time a person sees the logo they think ‘I want to be there.’ Seeing what it will become and reduce the number of child abuse [cases] in Oswego County.”