By Dedra Cordle
On one of the coldest nights in December, dozens of students from Grove City High School braved the frigid temperatures to attend the Christmas Celebration in the Town Center.
Some could be found sitting around a small heater in a tent where they were selling the pottery they had made in Brian Bosworth’s ceramics class, while a few of the more adventurous could be spotted walking around offering hot chocolate and apple cider to those frozen souls waiting for the parade to begin.
None of the students were there for the promise of extra credit, nor were any of them required to attend, but rather they all wanted to participate as it would help them raise funds and awareness for autism, a cause near and dear to many of their hearts.
Despite hating the cold, junior Kalynn Kinzer happily volunteered to be a part of the event as it was a way to honor her twin brother Samuel, who is autistic.
She recalled a time when her brother was endlessly chatty.
“He loved to talk, even more than I did,” she said.
As he got older, the less he spoke. Now, as teenagers, Kinzer said Samuel is non-verbal so she is using her voice to speak for her brother and others affected by autism.
Derrick Vincent, a senior at the school, also volunteered to raise funds for autism.
“I just want to help in any way I can,” he said.
When Vincent was a child, he was tested for autism, but was instead diagnosed with a severe case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He said raising awareness for autism or other causes helps him focus and it makes him happy to know he is having a positive impact on another person’s life.
Their determination to fight autism is why Vincent, Kinzer and 23 other Grove City students joined Kups for Kids. Founded three years ago by then student Brandon Damopoulos, Kups for Kids raises money through the sale of handled pottery cups, ornaments and trays they made over the course of several months in their ceramics class. The money they raise goes directly to the Stynchula Family Foundation, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to support the treatment and research for children with autism at The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Dave Stynchula, the founder of the Stynchula Family Foundation, said the money raised through Kups for Kids is used to help fund Christmas parties for children with autism.
“They have an absolute blast at these parties,” said Stynchula.
This year, the students raised $903 for the party. To date, they have raised over $3,500 for the Stynchula Family Foundation.
Stynchula said he is always impressed by their efforts and touched by their willingness to help with the cause.
“There are some good kids at Grove City,” he said.
Kups for Kids is not the only fundraising event Grove City High School does for the Stynchula Family Foundation. For the past six years, they have been hosting a football and cheerleading camp for children with autism and have seen the number of participants and volunteers grow with each year. This year’s event will be held on Aug. 24.