For 17-year-old Ari Klafter, who spent the last two summers volunteering at The Cottage Schools, it was simple: he felt that kids who didn’t have what he and his friends took for granted—a safe home, parents who cared for them, a familiar neighborhood to live in—should at least have “the nurturing and care-free play that all children deserve.”

He decided to do something to make that happen.

Ari developed a fundraising brochure, Please Help Me Build a New Playground, and sent it to everyone he knew, assisted by his brother Max, 11, who stuffed envelopes, and his sister Sophie, 15, who generated leads. Contributions began to pour in. But it didn’t stop there: Ari and Sophie held a week-long bake sale at their school and then persuaded their fellow students to each pay $3 for the privilege of wearing jeans to school on Grub Day, with the funds going to the playground project.

Within months, more than $20,000 was raised towards a $30,000 goal. The final step will be enlisting local businesses in the campaign.

“I think this taught all my kids that one person can make a tremendous difference just by asking others to help. We’re very proud of what Ari did, and we intend to stay involved with The Cottage Schools. We’re all working on putting together a small library for each cottage,” explains Ari’s mother, Karen Klafter.

To learn more about donating to the Campus or volunteering at the Cottage schools, click here.