PHOENIX — Cookies for Change, an after school program at Children First Academy in Phoenix, is building a brighter future for homeless kids.
Monday through Friday, 25 students in seventh and eighth grade meet after school to bake and sell cookies, brownies and more. The program teaches life skills, earns money for field trips and builds confidence.
However, the program, ran by Marilyn Seymann, is so much more than sweet treats. It's a safe place for the kids who Seymann says are at risk of abuse.
"The goal is to protect these kids and keep them aware, happy, healthy and start being seen and seeing what opportunities are out there," Lisha Dunlap, a volunteer from the University of Advancing Technology said. She adds that, for the kids, the program is more than cookies.
"When they walk in the door, they feel accepted and loved.," Dunlap said. "They're not a statistic or circumstance."
The program is made possible by the Community School Initiative, a nonprofit sponsored by the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network, donations and volunteers. But ultimately, Seymann's dedication is responsible for Cookies for Change's success. Dedication, Dunlap said, the kids wouldn't get otherwise. "I think a lot of these kids don't see past a meal or a day but Marilyn gives them a future," she said.
Cookies for Change is currently capped at 25 students due to lack of space, volunteers and funding but Seymann's ultimate goal is to expand the program at Children First Academy and other schools. The University of Advancing Technology is currently building a website for the program. In the meantime, if you'd like to help contact Seymann at firstname.lastname@example.org.