For the Kids event aims higher for good cause

Members of Delta Kappa Kappa and the men's ice hockey team pose with children during an ice hockey game. (Photo provided by Denvol Haye)
Members of Delta Kappa Kappa and the men’s ice hockey team pose with children during an ice hockey game. (Justine Polonski | The Oswegonian)

For the Kids event aims to provide support to the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County and generate awareness for the local organization.

Started by two Oswego State seniors in the spring of 2014, the event has aimed higher this year and not only in terms of fundraising.

Denvol Haye of Delta Kappa Kappa and Eli Kim-Swallow of the Lakers men’s ice hockey team thought of the event last year in one of their classes for a final project. The idea grew beyond what was required for a grade and raised more than $3,600 for the child abuse support organization.

“I always knew we were going to do it again, just because we were talking about it all summer,” Kim-Swallow said. “I remember very distinctly going back out to the CAC with our whole team of guys, we’ve already seen the place and we knew the impact it had on us, just walking into the place of course that hits you again, but I remember seeing a couple of the guys’ faces and it was their first time and I remembered thinking that’s what I looked like the first time.”

This year the duo set out with higher expectations and hope to raise $10,000 through their campaign. For the Kids added in events leading up to the main one, which will happen on April 11 at Cheap Seats Sports Bar and Grille, in order to help add to their fundraising. Kicked off with a free skate at the Marano Campus Center Ice Arena, For the Kids also hosted a night of bowling on March 3 and received support from Cam’s Pizzeria with a percentage of sales from March 30.

Currently, the campaign has raised just under $4,000, but a number that is still rising and an IndieGoGo page set up to raise money has raised $605 in one month.

“I’m still kind of shocked by how much support we’ve been getting thus far,” Haye said. “I guess that’s part of the awareness aspect of it. People are finding more out about it and why wouldn’t you want to support something that advocates against child abuse.”

For the Kids has been focusing on bringing the community together for their cause and set a fun tone early on, which has brought supporters back.

“All of our events you come to, you have an amazing time and you know that everything that is going on here is all for the kids,” Haye said. “That’s kind of what we wanted to do with the free skate was introduce who we were for people who didn’t know and kind of get them associated with For the Kids.”

Haye and Kim-Swallow are working heavily with six other members of their organizations to get the event together. Matt Marshall, Will Siembor, Austin Berube of DKK as well as Nick Rivait, Andrew Barton and Mackenzie Sawyer of the men’s ice hockey team have all lent a hand to making sure things run smoothly throughout the process. They shared the workload allowing them to do more in hopes of passing it down to keep For the Kids going in the future.

Melanie Proper is a licensed mental health counselor with the CAC and has worked with the seniors to raise awareness for the cause.

“I think that aside from financially the money they raised it creates a lot more awareness and child abuse is a topic that still people don’t like to talk about and don’t want to talk about. It can sometimes be difficult to get the awareness out there and get the kind of reaction from the community,” Proper said. “I think that with Denvol, Eli and their team, I don’t know if they realize the impact it’s doing and how amazing it is.”

Proper said that the funds help the CAC keep going with little things such as snacks for the kids who they see on a daily basis. The donations help fund support groups for those who need it the most. The CAC also provides different counseling services for children. Proper said that the center works predominantly with children who have experience sexual abuse, but also with children who experience any kind of abuse or major losses in their families. They work closely with local law enforcement and even have a special room for investigators to interview the children, keeping them comfortable through the process.

Proper said that Haye and Kim-Swallow have been nominated by the CAC as volunteers of the year. Recipients of the honor will be announced later in April.

According to a report from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Oswego County had 567 reports to Child Protective Services that indicated abuse. This is part of a downward trend from 2009, which saw 668 cases indicating abuse.

“How could this be happening in our backyard so to speak,” Kim-Swallow said.

At the April 11 event there will be a cover donation of $3 which will go to For the Kids as well as a percentage of food and bar sales going to the cause. There is going to be live music, raffles, a silent auction, a horse and carriage on the day of event for kids, outdoor games and face painting in hopes of making the event for all ages.

Afterward, the event will make its way to Alley Cat for an after party from 10 p.m. to close. The proceeds at the door will go to fundraising along with a percentage of sales.

“No kid deserves to grow up in that environment and if our efforts, the eight of us together can help with that we’ll do it every year,” Kim-Swallow said.

Participants of the For the Kids free skate pose for a photo at center ice in the Marano Campus Center ice arena. (Photo provided by Denvol Haye)
Participants of the For the Kids free skate pose for a photo at center ice in the Marano Campus Center ice arena. (Photo provided by Denvol Haye)