NASCAR's Jeff Gordon drives. AARP state offices organize food collections. People donate food and money. Two Indiana teenagers raised $1,600 with a Hunger Honk-a-Thon......
It's almost a "man bites dog" story: two 13-year-old girls trade summer leisure for unpaid work-fundraising for Drive to End Hunger, an initiative by AARP and AARP Foundation to help to raise awareness of the issue of senior hunger.
Why choose this issue focused on the 50+ population?
"We're going to be in that population someday, right?" said Hannah Frey. Her Honk-a-Thon partner, Elizabeth Kalill, explained: "We were looking for something that not a lot of people know about. Not many people know that Indiana is the 12 th state in risk of hunger. When we informed people of it, they were really shocked, and it's kind of helping them know about how we need to fix a problem in our state."
They had the Honk-a-Thon idea when thinking about a service learning project for their school. "But we couldn't use it, so we decided, why not use it during the summer?" added Hannah. An online search led them to Drive to End Hunger; they're fans of driver Jeff Gordon; and, as Hannah pointed out, "It seemed like Drive to End Hunger sort of worked with what it was about-like cars driving by and honking. It just seemed to fit."
The Friday before the NASCAR race in Indianapolis, an AARP employee interviewed the girls and their parents. One of their front yards was to be the staging area for the 12-hour Honk-a-Thon the following day. "They've taken pledges," said one. "For every honk, someone will make a donation. Most people put a cap on that."
To get parental permission for the project, the girls called a parents' meeting back in March. They had a PowerPoint presentation ready, and asked their folks to hold all questions until the end. "They went through this presentation, and at the end, we were speechless," said one mother. "And thankful - that we have kids like that," added the other.
The girls put up fliers in their community, created a Facebook page that attracted 500 friends, and held a teen meeting to recruit friends to help out.
The July 30 Honk-a-Thon got the girls close to their goal of $2,000. They raised $1,600, which has gone to AARP Foundation. Besides the pledges, some people stopped to donate money-whether a dime or a dollar-in a collection box. "A lot of people were really proud of what we're doing. One guy gave us all the pennies he had. It's nice to see that people really cared to give. I think we'll definitely do it again. Somewhere in the future," said Hannah.