Nonprofit gives Forest Hills Central students different perspective on life

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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — For a group of Forest Hills Central High School students, life is the best teacher.

“We very much like live in the Forest Hills bubble, and we’re not very associated with the real world,” said senior Isabella Long.

It quickly changed after Long joined her classmates to help Family Promise of Grand Rapids. It’s a nonprofit that provides housing for low-income and homeless families.

“I knew that I had to help out too,” said senior Roman Kalaczinski.”

Long and others volunteered to stop by classrooms and the lunchroom to fundraise. They raised $21,000 this past December — more than double their goal.

Almost $10,000 was used to buy Christmas gifts for struggling families, and the rest was used to modify this house for a family in need of shelter.

“It meant a lot to me because the way I grew up, like Christmas was just a regular thing, like presents under the tree. To see little kids there who like really didn’t get to experience that a lot and whose parents were struggling to give them stuff, I had a lot of empathy for them,” said Paris Gooch, a junior.

That empathy and that compassion are at the center of the group’s volunteerism. It’s also the reason the students were able to fundraise so much money to put a roof over a family’s head.

“The way that I was able to make a difference was really nice,” said Long. “(It) just gave me all of the warm fuzzies.”

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