Third, fourth, and fifth-graders at Pines Lake Elementary School are giving up their recess time to help others.
The 70 members of the Kids Care Club get together once a month with teachers and parents to develop community service projects and help families of children who attend the school.
“It’s amazing to see and know that young kids can have an impact on their world,” said Genevieve Boulos. Boulos helps to assist the club with its philanthropic activities.
Kids Care Clubs are community service groups that exist to inspire, equip, and mobilize elementary and middle school students to make a positive impact on the world. Pines Lake Principal Pamela Longo founded the group in 2003.
“I’m so pleased that we can do nice things for people who need our help,” Longo said.
The group comes up with a different service project each month. It has donated piles of clothes to flood victims, assembled Thanksgiving food baskets, and donated more than $200 and pet food to Friends of Wayne Animals. They held a holiday toy drive for needy children last December.
The group is planning on planting seedlings and giving them to the Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum to plant in the 30-acre nature preserve later this year.
The kids, with some assistance from the program coordinators, perform all the physical work themselves. They also donate their spare change and leftover lunch money.
“We’re working very hard to make sure that the children to do the majority of work themselves,” said Lisa Berkoowitz, one of the four co-coordinators of the program. “We want the kids to use their own hands to do the work.”
The kids worked in assembly lines to create hot cocoa gift bags for senior citizens.
The children are also educating their classmates on their efforts and ways they can impact the community. The group created posters illustrating ways they can be kind to others by “paying it forward.”
Longo and the co-chairs would like to establish similar groups at the other elementary schools in the district.
“It’s critical for these students to understand the concept of living outside of themselves. They need to know what it is like to help others,” Boulos said. “They need to understand that no matter how small or young you are, you can give back to your community.”