Like most little girls, Addison DiGiovanni of Pittsford wanted to celebrate her 5th birthday with friends. But rather than asking for a new toy or doll, Addison wanted her guests to bring art supplies so she could give them to other children.
“I am thankful for our abundance, but that is not what I want my children to know,” said Stephanie DiGiovanni, Addison’s mom. “I want them to understand they’re lucky to be healthy, to have parents who love them and to have all of their basic needs met every day. I have never really known what it’s like to need something. I have never had to make the choice between buying food or paying rent or medical bills, but I have met many people who have. I don’t think that should be a reason why a child does not get the opportunity to learn the way our children do.”
Addison is part of a family volunteer group called Little Helpers. Throughout the month of July the group collected art supplies for the Villa of Hope. The Rochester non-profit is devoted to helping at-risk children and their families. It was started 71 years ago as an orphanage and now helps more than 2,000 people each year.
“Art programs at the Villa of Hope are extremely important,” said Christina Gullo, Villa of Hope President and CEO. “Our youth value the opportunities to be creative and in many cases helps with their therapy towards becoming a healthier person. The donation of these supplies assists our art teachers in their program development, but then also aids our staff in developing opportunities for youth to showcase their talents.”
Little Helpers also showed off their creative side and made paper crowns for the children at Villa of Hope. Cookies and lemonade were waiting for the pint size Picassos as they presented their donations to the staff.
“The goal of the Little Helpers Program is to raise confident children who see giving back to the community as a normal aspect of their lives.” shared Gullo. “A philosophy such as this is parallel to the work that takes place with our youth at the Villa of Hope every day. This partnership just makes perfect sense.”
“I feel that providing my children with any opportunity to give back at this young age will help instill the values I feel are most important,” added DiGiovanni. “I want my children to understand that we live in a global community. If you help someone in another town, you are helping the whole community and ultimately the world. I want my kids to be Little Helpers…who grow up to be BIG HELPERS!”
For more information about Villa of Hope check out www.VillaofHope.org
Next month Little Helpers will be collecting books for children at Henry W. Longfellow School #36 in Rochester.