When Windermere Elementary School fifth-grader Max Gillum has a dream, he dreams big: He hopes to raise $5,000 to benefit a local charity.

When Windermere Elementary School fifth-grader Max Gillum has a dream, he dreams big: He hopes to raise $5,000 to benefit a local charity.

"I want to inspire younger kids like me so they can have the confidence to get off the couch and help people in this world," he said

In fact, his dream to raise more than any school ever has through See Kids Dream was so big that a special fundraising program was created just for him. The record for donations from a school is $3,500.

See Kids Dream was founded as a service-learning project by a central Ohio couple, Bill and Laura Grindle, to encourage students to support charities. Classes and schools research needs in their communities and surrounding communities, look for ways to help, raise funds and then determine where to give those funds.

Mr. Grindle said Max originally approached his teachers and principal about having the whole school raising money through Penny Harvest, which is a See Kids Dream project. However, because Windermere does a major fundraiser each year for the Wish Run, they were afraid the two would interfere with each other.

"When Max came up to us and said his school could not do Penny Harvest, he asked us if he could do the program by himself," Grindle said. "I thought about it and realized we could do it through our Community Lab program, which can be more individualized."

He said his wife, Laura, created curriculum for a program tailored just for Max.

"She created a specialized resource book and has been meeting with him regularly and coaching him on a one-to-one basis," Grindle said. "Max identifies issues he cares about, then raises money based on his research and decides what charity to donate to."

He said the individualized program is a first for See Kids Dream.

"Max is truly an amazing student and he has inspired us in so many ways," Grindle said. "I told him that he is such a talented young man that someday he will be sitting where I am and that I will be happy to serve on his board."

Max said he has already raised $2,000, through a tailgate party near Ohio Stadium, where he had a 50/50 raffle, with 50 percent going to the winner and 50 percent to the fundraiser. Three hundred people showed up and the winner donated his winnings to Max.

To begin the fundraiser, Max researched three local communities -- Upper Arlington, Parsons Avenue in Columbus and a rural area near Bluffton, Ohio.

"I interviewed people and asked what their community could do better and tried to figure out the problems of the community," he said. "They all had homeless problems, which really concerned me.

"I am passionate about the homeless and can't stand hearing there are veterans homeless. If they served their country, they deserve a home."

The four charities Max is researching that could receive donations from his project are Faith Mission, Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio, the Open Shelter and the Refuge, in Columbus.

His next big fundraiser he is planning is a dodgeball tournament.

"I'd like to have all the schools compete, with 10 players on each team," he said.

Max said he plans to keep raising money through April. He credits his sister, Mia, with "having great ideas" and said his dad, Bryan, and mom, Andra, have helped along the way.

He said he also had help from his homeroom teacher at Windermere, Beth McCormick, and enrichment teacher Amy Graver.

"I'd like to let kids know that even though they don't have to raise funds for charity, that even if they donate pennies, it still counts," Max said. "Every penny counts, which is why it is called Penny Harvest."