[Hpn] COVENTRY, RI - Coventry kid raises money for the homeless - The Coventry Courier - December 5, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Thu, 11 Dec 2003 04:55:17 -0500


Coventry kid raises money for the homeless

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By MICHELLE COLE - The Coventry Courier - December 5, 2003

COVENTRY, RI - One eight-year-old boy in Coventry knows what
his goal is in life: To get his face printed on a dollar bill.

He's done his research and found that he would be only the
second non-president to be so honored (Ben Franklin was the
first). But before his face graces the money in people's
wallets, he first showed up in person to help put food in
their stomachs.

Meet Nicholas Tomasso, a third grader at Hopkins Hill
School. Last month, he gave up TV for three weeks in order
to raise money for Travelers Aid of Rhode Island, an
organization dedicated to helping the homeless, in
Providence.

Nicholas says he came up with the idea while watching an
episode of "Arthur" on TV in which the character gives up TV
in order to earn money. He asked his mother if she would
give him $10 if he didn't watch TV for two weeks. Armed with
an affirmative response from his mother and others, Nicholas
says he said "make it three weeks - and give it to the
homeless!"

Nicholas' efforts raised $840 for Travelers Aid and involved
more than 65 people. The school PTA provided matching funds
for part of the benefit during the monthly "Hats on for
Charity" event at Hopkins Hill School. On special Fridays,
students may wear a hat in school if they bring a quarter
for charity. Nicholas says this month he brought a dollar
and told them to "keep the change."

The first day without TV was hard for Nicholas, says his
mom, Lisa, because he had to give up his favorite show -
"Fear Factor." Other days were much easier, Nicholas
confides, because homework took most of the night.

Staying away from the TV (which included giving up video
games) gave him plenty of time to clean with his mom, rake
leaves with his dad, help a younger brother learn to read,
and play with toys (which he doesn't usually do), says
Nicholas.

At the end of his TV famine, Nicholas went to Providence to
help serve those with hunger of a different sort. He spent
two hours at Travelers Aid serving sandwiches and pie to the
homeless. "He would go and do it again," says Lisa.

Nicholas says he learned a lot about different types of
people. Before he had this experience, he'd thought homeless
people were "uncivilized," explains Lisa, but once he was
there he realized they are just like everyone else, but
without a place to live. Nicholas met one woman in the
kitchen, he says, who he didn't even know was homeless.

"We thought homeless people would be the most needy," says
Lisa, which is why Nicholas chose to give money to Travelers
Aid. Nicholas says each person received about three
sandwiches from him, so it appeared the meal was a success.

When he is not planning to put his face on a dollar bill,
Nicholas enjoys playing soccer and reading books. In fact,
while his career plans have ranged from "rock star" to
"scientist," Nicholas says his most probable occupation will
be "bookworm." His collection of hardcover books at home
exceeds 600 (he prefers non-fiction), says Lisa, including
research guides and dinosaur trivia.

Nicholas says he will give up TV again next year to raise
money for charity, and many of his classmates have expressed
an interest in joining him.

"That's the kind of kid he is. He's the one going around
helping others," says Lisa.

ŠThe Coventry Courier source page: http://tinyurl.com/yqf5
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ŠTHE HOMELESS NEWS - H.C. Covington, Editor  http://tinyurl.com/2yg2