Borden Elves Grant

Learning to Give by Learning a Trade

Character isn’t something you’re born with, it gets developed over time, and at its root is a deep capacity for caring and empathy. When we involve our youth in service-based projects that improve the communities they live in, we not only help them discover how they fit into society, we are developing them into active citizens with the ability to set and meet goals, work cooperatively and collaboratively, and inspire and motivate others to organize for the common good. In Borden, Indiana, a high school shop teacher is helping his students cultivate their character by honoring one local man’s legacy through a project-based approach to his teaching.

Seven years ago, due to his failing health, but still wanting his shop equipment to be put to good use, Hank Klein donated all the equipment he’d acquired over forty years of woodworking as a beloved hobby to Borden High School. Mr. Klein has since passed away, but his widow, Mrs. Wilma Klein, and Mr. Anthony Harper, Borden High School shop teacher, came up with a way for Hank’s annual tradition of donating toys he made to the Salvation Army for needy children at Christmas time to live on through the Borden Elves program. Since 2012, the Youth Philanthropy Council of CFSI has been making grants to the Borden Elves through their competitive grant program. Each year the grant award helps fund the students’ ability to make more toys with better materials and bring joy to increasing numbers of underserved children in our community. And yet the grant is paying for so much more. Mr. Harper said, “Not only are children in need receiving handmade toys at Christmas, but thanks to Hank and Wilma Klein, and the grants we receive from the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, my students are learning about goal-setting, planning and execution, team work, and problem-solving through the process of toy engineering. They are developing trade skills and hands-on work experience they can use to begin building a resume, pride in craftsmanship, and the qualities of character that come from working toward a social good they feel passionately about.”

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