GREENFIELD — Mark Griffin’s 8-foot-tall model of the Hancock County Courthouse commands the attention of passersby the moment they enter the lobby of Greenfield Banking Co.’s main office.
Made from plastic foam, the replica was part of last year’s Kid$ville program. In preparation for this year’s event, Griffin is working on a representation of the Greenfield Daily Reporter building.
Getting the details right is important; Griffin is even used the same fonts, Times New Roman and Tiffany Bold, picked for the signage adorning the Daily Reporter’s building on New Road.
Kid$ville, an interactive kid-sized version of Greenfield, returns March 4 to Greenfield Banking Co., 1920 N. State St. Open to children ages 3 to 12, Kid$ville gives children hands-on experience with employment and financial decisions. The event creates a miniature city complete with a bank, a newspaper, a grocery store and an animal shelter, and it’s fully operated by kids.
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The doors officially open at 9:30 a.m. with job interviews. All participating children interview for a job with the three businesses represented in the town: Greenfield Banking Co., NineStar Connect and the Greenfield Daily Reporter.
In addition to jobs at the bank, the power company and the newspaper, Kid$ville also has job openings for builders, a grocery store owner, a toy store merchant, a mail carrier and a city clerk who fills out everyone’s paychecks.
Kid$ville manages to fit an entire work week into just 90 minutes. Once every child is assigned to a job, “Monday” is training day. Each child is trained for a job and given an understanding of the responsibilities of the position. At the end of the day, they receive a paycheck for the day’s work.
Tuesday begins with half of the group going to their assigned jobs and the other half going on break. The children at work earn another paycheck. The children on break make decisions on how to spend their paychecks: save it, spend it or share it with the philanthropic organizations that also are a part of Kid$ville.
Partners for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Hancock County Food Pantry, two local non-profit organizations, provide an opportunity for children to learn about philanthropy. Children can donate play money from their paychecks to help care for rescue dogs and cats, or they can purchase food at the grocery to donate to the food pantry.
NineStar Connect, Greenfield Banking Co. and the Daily Reporter plan to match the Kid$ville’s play money donations with actual donations to the two participating non-profits.
Organizer of Kid$ville, Mark Griffin, loan officer and vice president at Greenfield Banking Co., also founded the bank’s popular Kid$ Club, a program launched in 2015 that hosts events aimed at bringing children into the bank. Kid$ville is one of four Kid$ Club events planned a year. There is no admission charge and it is not necessary to be a Kid$ Club member or a Greenfield Banking Co. customer to attend.
Kids today don’t go into a bank, Griffin explained. They go with their parents to the bank’s drive-thru or the ATM, but rarely step inside the building, he said.
The idea for Kid$ville evolved from a field trip one of Griffin’s children took to a simulated town designed to be run by children. Griffin was impressed by the program and set out to create an annual event for Hancock County children.
Up until now, Kid$ Club events had been purely for fun, but Kid$ville, Griffin decided, would be different.
“We wanted to put some meaning behind it,” he said.
Griffin took his idea to bank president John Kennedy. He thought it was going to be a hard sell, but Kennedy gave the go-ahead.
Kid$ville, he explained, teaches the three principles of money: spend, save or share. It gives kids the opportunity to decide what they’re going to do with their money.
One of the challenges Griffin faced in organizing Kid$ville was the creation of jobs for any aged child that might walk through the door. For example, at Kid$ville’s Greenfield Banking Co., a 3-year-old might be hired to sort coins, an 8-year-old would be hired as a cashier and a 12-year-old employed as a bookkeeper. Griffin hopes to staff each of the participating businesses with six to 10 employees.
Griffin stresses that although adult volunteers will be on hand, the kids are in charge.
“This is a kid city. It’s organized chaos and a lot of interacting,” he said.
Kid$ville even has a mayor, Griffin said. Addison Brown, last year’s mayor, received the key to the city from Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell at last year’s event. She even spent one day hanging out with the mayor to learn about his job leading the city.
At the end of Kid$ville’s work week, each child has spent one day in training, two days working and two days on break. At the end of the event, organizers will lead a discussion with the kids about what they did with their earnings. Did they save, did they spend or did they share?
“All three principles have to balanced,” Griffin said. “Hopefully it’s a light bulb moment.”
Griffin has high hopes of doubling last year’s attendance of 40 for this year’s Kid$ville event.
“Bigger, better, awesome,” Griffin said.
Kid$ville returns to Greenfield Banking Company’s main branch at 1920 N. State St. on March 4.
Job interviews for children ages 3 to 12 start at 9:30 a.m.
Opening ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.
The event closes at 11:30 a.m.
For more information, call 317-462-1431.