Archive for Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boy’s bar mitzvah project doubles as CASA fundraiser

Twelve-year-old Ben Novorr passes a spoon to Ala Wyrick as he gathers all the components of a root beer float for her Saturday at Hy-Vee, 4000 W. Sixth St. As part of his bar mitzvah project, Novorr spent the morning and afternoon with his parents and younger brother Jon, 10, back, selling floats to raise money for Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.

Twelve-year-old Ben Novorr passes a spoon to Ala Wyrick as he gathers all the components of a root beer float for her Saturday at Hy-Vee, 4000 W. Sixth St. As part of his bar mitzvah project, Novorr spent the morning and afternoon with his parents and younger brother Jon, 10, back, selling floats to raise money for Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.

July 11, 2010

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Oona Nelson, 5, studies the intricacies of the dollhouses on display Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center. At left is Oona’s mother, Sarah Hill-Nelson. The houses, designed by various Lawrence residents, will go up for bidding in a silent auction July 17 at the Casa for CASA Playhouse Celebration at the Arts Center.

Oona Nelson, 5, studies the intricacies of the dollhouses on display Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center. At left is Oona’s mother, Sarah Hill-Nelson. The houses, designed by various Lawrence residents, will go up for bidding in a silent auction July 17 at the Casa for CASA Playhouse Celebration at the Arts Center.

Twelve-year-old Ben Novorr’s bar mitzvah project fizzled Saturday afternoon.

Dollhouses

From Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter with Jayhawks and wine corks in between, the dollhouses on display at the Lawrence Art Center this week offer a unique twist to the traditional toy.

For the first time, Douglas County CASA asked community members to take home kits and decorate the two-story dollhouses.

Diana Frederick, executive director of CASA, said she was impressed with the results. “We had no idea what to expect,” she said. “It was just a neat surprise to see how diverse they are. Some people worked in teams and they just got into it so much.”

CASA is inviting the public to stop by the arts center, 940 N.H., to view the dollhouses and cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award. The dollhouses will be sold at a silent auction during the Casa for CASA Celebration fundraiser on July 17. The winner of the large CASA playhouse will also be announced during the event.

CASA, which stands for court appointed special advocates, matches volunteers with children who have entered the court system because of abuse or neglect. For more information about the Casa for CASA Celebration, go to dccasa.org or call 832-5172.

Dollhouses support Douglas County CASA

Community groups participating in the annual CASA fundraiser were asked to decorate dollhouses this year. The projects will be on display at the Lawrence Arts Center. Enlarge video

Root beer floats helping CASA program

A local 12-year-old was doing his part to help raise money for Douglas County CASA. The money raised will most likely be used for birthday bags and backpacks for children in the court system as a result of abuse. Enlarge video

But it was the best kind of fizzle, as in the sound one hears when pouring root beer over scoops of ice cream.

With the help of his family, Ben set up a root beer float stand at Hy-Vee, 4000 W. Sixth St., to raise money for Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. While his younger brother Jon went through the store handing out fliers, Ben and his parents Barb and Jeff spent the afternoon making floats.

The proceeds will be used to help supply birthday bags and backpacks to children who are in the court system because of abuse or neglect.

“It is helping children, and I thought it would be good because I am a child,” Ben said. “So it would be helping kids my own age.”

The project started with a phone call Ben made to Hy-Vee asking for donations.

“(It) surprised me that they weren’t surprised to hear from a 12-year-old boy,” Ben said.

The store staff provided a spot right next to the front entrance and all the makings for the floats. They also helped Ben come up with a pricing structure: $2 for a regular float and $6 for a float that came with a Coca-Cola glass.

Saturday’s stand wasn’t the only fundraising Ben was doing for CASA. He also solicited businesses to help fill the birthday bags and backpacks.

Among his biggest concerns was that the birthday bags had party plates, but sometimes children in the foster care system couldn’t use them because they didn’t get a birthday cake.

So, he decided to do something to make sure they would.

“What are they supposed to put on the plates? Spaghetti?” he asked Eileen’s Colossal Cookies.

The line worked. The business donated 100 giant cookies for the birthday bags. It was Ben’s biggest score in the fundraising department.

“I am so fortunate because I get great gifts for my birthday. But these kids, a lot of times, are getting nothing,” Ben said.

Diana Frederick, executive director of Douglas County CASA, said she wishes she could bottle Ben’s charm and enthusiasm.

“He just has a way with people. I think it is hard for people to tell him no,” Frederick said.

“I want to make him the head of our development committee,” she joked.

Comments

ljwreader33 4 years, 11 months ago

What a great act of kindness, Ben! indeed, an inspiring story.

1julie1 4 years, 11 months ago

I met Jon in the cheese area at HyVee where he gave me a flyer and explained his brother's project. He even asked me if I knew about CASA and was ready to tell me why it was important. I was impressed by him and his demeanor right away - so sincere and so mature for his age.

What a couple of great kids and what a great project. Kudos to them (and to their parents for raising such terrific kids who know the importance of giving of themselves, even at such a young age). We need to hear more about this kind of good (and inspiring) news.

rocketmom67 4 years, 11 months ago

What a great idea! and thanks Hyvee for helping and supporting it. CASA volunteers as so important to the kids that have them and the people who work with the kids. The backpacks are great icebreakers for kids when they meat their CASA and the birthday bags are a grea idea! Thanks to all the people and businesses in the communit that made this happen!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 4 years, 11 months ago

Keep your eye on that kid. He'll make a name for himself.

Katara 4 years, 11 months ago

How cool is this? Thanks for demonstrating that today's kids are kind and compassionate!

Michael Throop 4 years, 11 months ago

Ben, congratulations on a super project. How selfless. Thank you.

domino 4 years, 11 months ago

Way to go Ben!! CASA is such a great thing - too many kids need it and too many people are not aware of what a wonderful thing it is. Thanks for not only raising money but also for raising awareness.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

Seriously? You must be very young. A bar mitsva is a coming of age ritual for a Jewish boy. A bat misva is a ceremony for a girl.

runescapeman 4 years, 11 months ago

im not young! im 14! they dont teach us religious things at public schools

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

You are very young, that's why you don't know about this yet. Read books. You don't just have to learn from school. In fact, most of what you learn will be from experience and reading. This includes fiction. I think I first heard of a bar mitzvah when I read a Trixie Beldon book. That was a series of girl detective books, like Nancy Drew, from the '60's. Read, read, read. And go out and be friends with people who are different than you.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

tomatogrower - I think that runescapeman had a very reasonable question. I wouldn't have had any clue what it was until I was in my 20s or 30s, and I do read a lot. If you don't know anyone that's Jewish, a bar or bat mitzvah would be quite out of your realm of experence.

For an analogy, we could discuss the differences between Shiite, Sunni, and Sufi, and many well read persons could not explain where where a whirling dervish fits in there.

We're all ignorant about some things, and the only stupid question is the one that was never asked.

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

PS, great job. CASA works hard for kids in need.

Gail Grant 4 years, 11 months ago

Well done Ben, what a great way to celebrate Bar Mitzva Mazal tov may all your life full of kindness and helping other people

ECM 4 years, 11 months ago

What a great project! Good work Ben. Congrats!

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm really pleased that this article appeared - it is a very good illustration of what Jewish values are all about.

So many people think of Jews in such a stereotypical way, and an incredible number of otherwise reasonable people confuse Judaism and Jewish values with the politics of the mostly secular state of Israel, which is today entangled in the most volatile position imaginable.

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