The newest chapter of ALF, and the only chapter made up primarily of children, is the Lighthouse Kids. The group consists of seventh graders at the North Hampton School on New Hampshire’s seacoast, and their goal is the complete restoration of that state’s only offshore lighthouse, Isles of Shoals Light, best known locally as White Island Light. Science teacher Sue Reynolds started the project more than two years ago, and some of the past years’ Lighthouse Kids are acting as mentors for the new ones.
The official announcement of the Lighthouse Kids becoming a chapter of ALF was appropriately made in September at the International Lighthouse Conference held in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The focus of the conference was the education of our youth about the importance of lighthouses and their preservation. At the conference the Kids were also given a special award by Rear Admiral Vivien Crea, the commander of the First Coast Guard District. And they even managed to raise a few hundred dollars at the conference through donations and the selling of t-shirts.
The Lighthouse Kids also were officially recognized recently as “Keepers of the White Island Light” by the Division of Parks and Recreation of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development.
The brick lighthouse tower on White Island has been neglected since 1993 when the State of New Hampshire became its custodian. The cracks in the lighthouse’s brick exterior continue to widen and spread, and the tower has taken a beating in this year’s harsh winter. But the Kids have been working hard and have raised over $10,000 toward an estimated restoration cost of $122,000.
The Lighthouse Kids have been giving presentations about the lighthouse and their group to local organizations. Kyla Briggs, one of the speakers, says, “We have gone to many places to speak to people, including the Portsmouth Rotary Club and the Hampton Rotary Club. And many people don’t know what some of us are doing behind the scenes, like writing the receipts and handling our finances. Others are writing letters and getting companies to help us.”
Stavroula Birmbas of the Kids says, “We have been putting out donation cups and they’ve been working pretty well. We put one in Lena’s Subs and Seafood and we got $20 just in one week. A couple of us have been working on some signs for advertising how much money we’ve raised.” Sara D’Addario adds, “I am the person who makes the donation sheets and the pictures for the donation cans. I do this because a colorful poster or sign makes people more interested.”
Their biggest donation to date came recently when they received $5000 from the Timberland Company. The headquarters of the outdoor clothing company is in Stratham, New Hampshire, just a few miles from the North Hampton School. The donation came as a direct result of a letter written to the company by Kyla Briggs. It reflects Timberland’s statement that they are working “to try to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.”
The efforts of the Lighthouse Kids are contagious and have attracted help from nearby communities. Cacia King, a nine-year-old in Epping, New Hampshire, made loaves of bread and necklaces and sold them at Christmastime. She donated her profits of almost $200 to the Lighthouse Kids.
Colin Gagnon is the Technology Manager of the Kids, and he’s hard at work revamping the group’s website at www.lighthousekids.com. He also reports, “We just finished up making our brochures, which look a lot better than the old one.”
Will Taber of the group recorded one of the Kids’ trips to White Island this fall with a video camera, and he’ll be assembling a video to help raise awareness. The Kids have gotten some great press coverage recently - they were featured on New England Cable News and on the New Hampshire Chronicle program. They’ll also be featured in an upcoming issue of Yankee Magazine.
On another front, the Kids are working for the creation of a new license plate for New Hampshire, one that would feature the Isles of Shoals Lighthouse. They figure the famous “Old Man of the Mountains” seen on current plates represents the state’s mountainous inland region well, but the lighthouse would be the perfect symbol for the seacoast. They’re circulating petitions among New Hampshire voters.
And perhaps the most exciting day for the Kids so far was last January 28 when they appeared before the House Resources and Recreation Committee at the New Hampshire State Capitol in Concord in support of House Bill 274-A, which would provide $125,000 in state funds for the restoration of the lighthouse. It would also allow the State to accept funds raised by the Kids for the ongoing maintenance of the lighthouse. The bill was introduced by State Representative Rogers Johnson (R-Stratham), who says he has made a commitment to help the Lighthouse Kids. “This isn’t about me,” says Representative Johnson, “It’s about the kids.” The heartfelt plea on behalf of the lighthouse presented by five of the Kids at the hearing drew a standing ovation from several members of the committee.
As their teacher Sue Reynolds says, the Lighthouse Kids are proving just how much kids can get done when they set their minds to it, and when they feel that adults are listening. The adults of New Hampshire’s seacoast would have to be living in a soundproof cave to not hear these Kids. These Kids need and deserve the support of all of us who love lighthouses.
For more information or to donate:
North Hampton School
Attn: Lighthouse Kids
201 Atlantic Ave, N. Hampton, NH 03862
To visit their web site go to www.LighthouseFoundation.org and click on Lighthouse Kids
This story appeared in the
March 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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