Students continue to StandUp for kids

Sean Lavery

Last year’s Dance Marathon beneficiary, StandUp For Kids, received more than just cash. It got 10 new volunteers for the organization’s Chicago branch.

StandUp For Kids is a charity and outreach organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless youth and raising awareness about their struggle. The organization was founded in 1990 and currently has more than 60 chapters in metropolitan areas nationwide.

Weinberg senior Benjamin Rothschild began volunteering with the organization in June after serving on last year’s DM executive board as Promotions Committee co-chair. DM 2010 raised $854,396, $461,546.73 of which was donated to StandUp For Kids’ national organization.

Twice a week now, Rothschild and other volunteers meet up in the early evening and walk the neighborhoods surrounding the lakeview area by Wrigley Field looking to help children they find living on the streets. Team members wear purple shirts, making it easier to recognize them.

“We talk to the kids and befriend them,” Rothschild said.

The organization tries to build relationships between the volunteers and the children in order to build a level of trust, he said. Volunteers and kids engage in tutoring, mentoring and collaborating on creative projects. One of the current projects is developing a publication.

“Since last Thursday we found a spot in a church where kids can stay in the winter,” Rothschild said, highlighting a recent success for the Chicago branch.

Executive Director of the Chicago StandUp program Thomas Hayden said the money raised for DM has helped more than just the newly established Chicago branch.

“The money went to the national chapter to be distributed and is being used for anything the organization does,” Hayden said.

Last year, StandUp CEO and founder Rick Koca said DM was a great way to draw awareness to a problem many people overlook.

“Without more and more people knowing about the problem, there isn’t going to be a solution someday, ” Koca said. “The money is going to be great, but it’s the awareness.…The whole Chicago community needs to get involved or we are not going to solve this problem.”

Rothschild said the money and publicity allowed the company to make a crucial transition by attracting talented individuals to fill a new executive board position.

“We chose StandUp For Kids because it was different from a medical charity. This is only the second social cause DM has ever done,” Rothschild said. “We wanted to do it because it was something NU students might not be aware of.”

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