Looking for a way to involve your children in a community service project designed for any age? Would your kids benefit from working with their hands and hearts to feel the special sense of pride which comes from helping others in need?

Then here’s some GOOD news for you:  the very first Wilton chapter of Youth United, an offshoot of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, is forming right now with opportunities for elementary schoolchildren to high schoolers to chip in.

“This is a good alternative to get involved in something,” says Margie Holcomb, a Wilton resident who is heading up the chapter. “It’s not too arduous a schedule–a once a month commitment–and activities will be age appropriate.”

The new group will be divided into three sections:  elementary, middle, and high school. Each subgroup will then work as a team, with projects ranging from fundraising activities to making small items for a Habitat home, to actual building.

Older teens who are willing and able are welcome to swing a hammer at an active Habitat site, while others can take on smaller building projects such as creating bookshelves for the home. Even the littlest members can make a difference by getting creative.

“Students are welcome to make crafts which can be sold at fairs, much like other local groups do,” Holcombe says. “Easy things can make a difference, such as making trivets to give to the new homeowners.”

Holcombe also says fundraising events might be planned by the group, including a benefit car wash or an organized “sleep out” to raise awareness of homelessness.

Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County was founded in 1985 as the Greater Bridgeport arm of Habitat for Humanity International. In the last 28 years, Habitat CFC has built more than 175 homes for nearly 700 family members living throughout Bridgeport, Stratford, and Stamford.

A true grassroots organization, Habitat for Humanity prides itself on the fact that the homes targeted for deserving families are built and/or restored with volunteer labor and materials, and are funded through private and public donations in partnership with a qualified low-income family. Volunteer labor at build sites is tied to donation levels so that homes can be paid for, funding can be reinvested and opportunities for more home ownership can continue. When completed, Habitat houses are sold with a no-interest mortgage to a qualified family at building cost.

Holcombe says those families put in effort on the homes as well, and that her group will offer a chance to meet those who will benefit from their efforts.

“Each family gives 500 hours of their own time toward construction of their house,” she says. “We will have opportunities to not only get involved, but to interact with the kids of the families who are going to live in the house we work on.”

For interested children, there will be an informational kickoff meeting held this Saturday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m. at the Habitat for Humanity offices, 1542 Barnum Avenue in Bridgeport. Kids will have a chance to learn about Habitat’s mission, and to see where and how Habitat projects are built and stored. They will then have the opportunity to tour a Habitat home currently under construction at 58 Laurel Court in Bridgeport.

Those who would like to car pool are invited to meet at the St. Matthew’s Church parking lot at 12:15 p.m.; parents are welcome to come or to drop off. Carpools will return to the same spot by 3 p.m..

For more information, contact Margie Holcombe directly at 203.834.0025 or margie.holcombe@gmail.com. U