Activity Day Will Benefit Local Babies

A “kaleidoscope” of fun activities is on tap Saturday during the first Kaleidoscope fundraiser for the Gabriel Project of West Virginia Inc.

Children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to make water bottle rockets, play a version of Minute to Win It, make their own kites and chalk, engineer a roller coaster out of everyday items, perform Zumba and more at the event that will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wheeling Jesuit University’s Acker Science Center.

A pizza lunch and free T-shirt are included in the registration fee. The registration deadline is Friday.

West Liberty University senior Leah Starkey said she wanted to help the Gabriel Project because the local director, Faith Hicks, is her sign language instructor. She enlisted the help of fellow student Julia Saling and decided to host the children’s activity day after the success of a similar event she helped organize with the Magnolia High School National Honor Society.

“They don’t call it Kaleidoscope anymore, they call it Kids Kollege. I actually participated in it when I was a very young child and I helped organize it when I got older,” Starkey said.

“This was all their doing,” said Hicks, who worked for the West Virginia Department of Rehabilitation for 23 years and retired as the Wheeling branch office manager.

“I couldn’t stay home. I needed to do something,” she said.

As director, she collects donations and handles distribution of clothing, shoes, diapers, wipes, cribs, car seats or other gear for infants and toddlers. There are no income guidelines to receive these items, and all are provided for free except cribs, which are brand new and cost the parent $25. Car seats are provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Wheeling Police Department, Hicks said.

The Gabriel Project was founded in Wheeling but now has its central office in Charleston as well as operating branch offices in both cities and in Parkersburg. The goal is to “protect and honor life” by providing both practical and emotional support to families and single mothers during what can be difficult times when children are ages 2 and under.

Hicks said churches, scouts, school groups, college clubs and community organizations all have donated to the Wheeling branch, which is located in the basement of Edgwood Lutheran Church’s administration building on National Road.

At Kaleidoscope, registration will begin at 9 a.m. and activities at 10 a.m. Parents are asked to choose six of nine activities for their children. Each activity is run by a college student volunteer. Lunch will be served at 1 p.m.

Work study students from Wheeling Jesuit also have helped organize the event. They include Teracyn Rich, Taylor Kulpa and Maria Tennant.

To register, email Starkey at lstark with the child’s name, grade level, T-shirt size and six activity preferences: water bottle rockets, Minute to Win It, egg drop, parachute, bridge building, kite making, roller coaster building, Zumba or make-your-own chalk. Payments will be taken at the event

For Gabriel Project information, call Hicks at 304-639-5039 or email