CHESTERTON | When Bethany Van Drie grabbed a paint brush Wednesday afternoon, it wasn't for art class.
Rather, the sophomore class president at Chesterton High School was painting for a good cause.
She was helping to paint her class float for the homecoming parade, an event that will be as helpful to the community this year as it is entertaining.
“This is a way for the whole school to help people, instead of making something that’s just going to be trashed and thrown away,” Van Drie said.
The float, which is actually a child’s playhouse on a flatbed truck, will be auctioned off to benefit a charity.
Five charities will benefit from this year’s homecoming floats — one chosen by each high school class and one by the faculty.
The sophomore class float will benefit the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. That playhouse, made by Chesterton High School’s building trades class, will be painted in an ocean theme.
Sophomore class sponsor, math teacher Michelle Lancaster, said she hopes the kids get more from the project than the few hundred dollars it's expected to raise for their charity, although the money is a nice benefit, too.
“I hope they get a sense of giving back and learn the importance of supporting different causes," Lancaster said. "They get to take ownership of a great project, and they will feel a bond within the community of the class itself."
Other floats are representing such charities as the World Wildlife Fund, Coaches vs. Cancer, the Westchester Food Pantry and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
Each playhouse is also sponsored by a business in the community, and each class raised money to pay for material costs.
Proceeds from the sale of each playhouse on eBay will benefit the charities. CHS Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck says he was thrilled by the huge turnout of support as hundreds of students pitched in to help.
“This is really about a sense of community, about creating permanent change. If the playhouses, which will be auctioned off after homecoming on eBay, each go for a buck, fine, because it’s more about what these kids learn and their involvement in the community. Of course we would like to cover our costs and then earn some funds for the charities,” Zeck said.
The houses will be featured during the homecoming parade Friday and before and after the game.
Zeck said that the event will be a great example of this year’s theme, “Homecoming Gives Back.”