Our Children Making Change (OCMC) is an organization that teaches that no one is too young to give back to the community. The organization creates a way for children to nominate charities they wish to support and then brainstorm different ways to fundraise in age-appropriate ways.

OCMC finished up the 2013 summer fundraising season Aug. 26 with check presentations at the Ocean City Music Pier and an afternoon at Wonderland Pier for the nearly 200 young fundraisers.

"They can do anything age-appropriate safe, so lemonade stands, talent shows, field hockey camps, tours, bake sales," founder Laura Dulac, of Margate, said. "They can be as creative as they want, which is kind of neat, and because the children vote on the charities they want to support, they're more invested. It's what they actually care about."

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The concept of OCMC is that the children come up with a list of charities they want to raise money for, then the children vote on which ones they will actually support.

This year, OCMC not only raised more than $20,000 for charity, but all of the charities that received a portion of the OCMC grand total directly help individuals in southern New Jersey.

Two of the charities, The Alcove and the Claudia Fund, are based out of Northfield and Ventnor, respectively. OCMC also donated to The Cape May County Zoo, the Tug McGraw Foundation, Stand for the Silent, and the Special Olympics. Each of the six groups received a check for $3,346.

President and Chairman of the Claudia Fund, Ted Bergman, of Ventnor, said that donation from OCMC would go toward the Claudia Fund's goal of raising $50,000 this year.

"We donate the money to brain cancer research," Bergman said. Claudia was Bergman's sister-in-law. She passed away 12 years ago from brain cancer. All of the proceeds the Claudia Fund raises are donated to Dr. Stuart Grossman at The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center for research. He was the doctor who treated Claudia.

Bergman said that two of Claudia's grandchildren, Claudia Watson, 12, and Mikaela Watson, 6, of Haddonfield, and Andrew Affanato, 11, of Longport, nominated the Claudia Fund during the initial stages of the OCMC brainstorming session. Bergman said donations like these are necessary because of the high end-of-year goal that the Claudia Fund sets for itself.

"I'm a staff of one - nonpaid," Bergman said. "About $600,000 has been donated Johns Hopkins for brain cancer where (Claudia) was treated."

Mindy Shemtov, of Margate, founder and executive director of The Alcove, said that she had not previously heard of OCMC, so the donation was a pleasant surprise.

"Without donations like that, we can't survive. We are highly dependant on our community to support us," Shemtov said. "We are always needing help from our community to keep us going."

The Alcove Center provides peer support to children and families that have lost a loved one.

"We help them through a really difficult time in their life," Shemtov said. "(The Alcove) helps children avoid stuffing their feelings down and avoid depression and anxiety or substance abuse."

Dulac said she wants to grow her foundation's presence.

"Personally, I would love to reach more kids in Ocean City, Smithville, Brigantine. I'd love to get more kids involved in our regional group," she said.

Visit Our Children Making a Change at ourchildrenmaking

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