Cullen brothers of Kewaunee make charity drives a family affair
KEWAUNEE – If it's true that a link exists between charity and happiness — "If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody," says the closing line of a well-known Chinese proverb — then the Cullen brothers have a good start.
The three siblings — James, a junior at Kewaunee High School; Cameron, a Kewaunee freshman; and Christopher, a seventh-grader at Holy Rosary School in Kewaunee — are holding a drive to collect items throughout November for Kid Comfort Packs.
The packs are tote bags filled with crayons, pens and pencils, coloring books, journals, modeling clay, fuzzy socks, stress balls, small stuffed animals and other items to help children in the county who are victims of abuse relieve stress and gain some comfort and confidence. The packs will be distributed by the Kewaunee County Violence Intervention Project, or VIP for short.
And, it's not a one-time deal for the brothers.
James got the ball rolling in 2016 by starting a Weather Warm-Ups drive to collect youth fall and winter clothing items for local nonprofit organizations (including VIP) in advance of cold weather arriving in the county.
That's become an annual drive, growing from about 120 items collected in its first year to more than 300 this past fall, James said. He hopes it continues to grow in coming years.
James didn't start doing this for some special reason, such as a community service or club project. He started it because, well … just because.
"I just knew it was something that was always in need," he said.
The family has added a new cause and drive each year since.
Last year, Cameron joined in by starting a Providing for Pets collection drive which is slated to take place again next spring. Then, all three brothers worked on the Kids Comfort Packs alongside parents James Sr. and Judy Cullen.
"We were previously associated with VIP through my and Cameron's collection drives," James said about coming up with the new project. "And we knew there was a need in the community for children in need."
James said his parents provided guidance on the latest effort, but there isn't a set list of duties for each family member.
"We just kinda do what needs to be done," he said. "We all work together to do the same things."
"They have done the other programs before. We just helped with the organization of it — what they need to do, what we need to do to organize these," James Sr. said about his and Judy's involvement.
And, if one thinks high school students are likely to sneer at and make fun of charitable efforts like these, James said he hasn't experienced that with his friends and classmates.
"(The reaction has) been pretty good. I haven't heard any negative comments," James said. "People have been willing to help out, putting out signs in the halls, putting out collection boxes. All around, it's been a positive reaction."
James and his father said they don't know if they'll launch a new charity drive next year, although that could change in the years after, when Christopher advances to high school.
Whatever the cause for the Cullen brothers, James said the reward is knowing they're making someone's life better.
"For me, when I hand out the clothes, it's cool to see the reaction in the kids' faces," James said. "When they're, like, 'Wow, I can have this sweatshirt, this hat?' That's what I get out of it."
Collection boxes for Kid Comfort Packs are out through Friday at Kewaunee Elementary, Middle and High schools. The Cullen family will continue to accept donations for the packs afterward. For more information, email [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Cullen brothers of Kewaunee make charity drives a family affair