Worthington News

'Welcome Home'

TWHS club project furnishes houses for formerly homeless

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The homes, when completed, could be the end result of an HGTV makeover show.

The interior designers, though, are Thomas Worthington High School students who provide a helping hand to families who once lived on the street, or in homeless shelters. The project is called "Welcome Home."

The Thomas Worthington High School community service club this year is furnishing four houses for families who are moving into their first real homes.

Working with a $2,000 grant from the True Heroes organization, and relying on donations from their own families and from Thomas Worthington staff members, the students take an empty house or apartment and completely furnish it for the family that is about to move in.

They not only collect and move in large furniture, from sofas and beds to tables and dressers, but they also add the small touches that make a house a home.

One recent home makeover was for a young mother with two young children. All of their possessions were in one trash bag. Not only was their new home fully furnished, but the children's bedrooms also were decorated, their closets filled with clothes and toys ready for playing.

The project ends with a "pounding," meaning everyone brings a pound of some kind of food to fill the shelves of the new home.

Membership in the service club ranges from 75 to 100, depending on who has time in his or her schedule, adviser Judith Galasso said.

"The kids really love to do this," she said.

Because the houses are generally in poor areas of Columbus, some of the students learn lessons about life beyond the suburbs.

"For our kids, it really is an eye-opening experience," Galasso said.

An empty classroom at the school is set aside for donations. On moving day, students, staff members and families pitch in to get the furnishings moved in, set up and ready for new lives to begin.

This school year, houses were furnished in November, December and February. The final Welcome Home project will be in April.

Most of the grant money is used to pay for mattresses, which must be purchased new. That usually costs $500 a home, Galasso said.

True Heroes is a nationwide program that presents grants based on the number of votes each organization receives on its website. Last year, the local service club earned $2,000 by finishing in second place.

A first-place finish would provide $3,000 and enable the students to furnish more homes next year.

Everyone is encouraged to visit truehero.org to vote for the Thomas Worthington High School service club.

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