CES 6th graders’ service projects show love for animals, patients

Carrying on what's become an annual tradition in Culver Elementary teacher Missy Trent's reading class, local 6th graders are doing their part to make the world that much better -- and taking away valuable lessons in service and community. That, and in one student's case, a dog.

Students Nora Kline, Ally Jones, and Alyssa Kinyanjui organized a "Puppy Love" dance at the school gymnasium Feb. 13 to benefit the Humane Society of Marshall County.

Kline, a vegetarian, "has a big, big heart for animals pulled those two (Jones and Kinyanjui) in with her," says Trent, though it doesn't seem to have taken too hard a sell on Kline's part.

"It was depressing watching those animal videos (those needing homes and care) on TV," she says. Jones also notes the choice of a dance "makes the kids so much more excited" than many other types of fund-raisers. Ken from All-Pro DJs donated his time for the event.

The result: over $1,000 and 166 pet care items for the Humane Society.
Kinyanjui says the organization was "very appreciative" when the donations -- whose packing and loading had been assisted by the Culver Comm. High School Spanish Club -- was dropped off.

The 6th graders, however, didn't leave empty-handed. Kline couldn't resist adopting a dog, whose arrival was a surprise to her parents, Chris and Kathleen Kline. The older, well-trained shepherd mix would make a great pet for a quiet household, says Kathleen, should any readers want to adopt it.

The service project was something of a "first" for Trent as well: the students actually thanked their teacher for their assignment.

"This is the first group I've ever gotten a 'thank you' card from," she says, "so I was really touched by my card!"

Each year, Trent requires of her reading students a service project of their choice (provided it’s approved), something she began a few years ago.

"I always felt a big part of teaching is teaching the kids about human caring and helping others," she says of the projects. "Think of where we'd be without those things."

Another student project, organized by Kate Rennaker, raised $2,028 for Pennies for Patients, which raises funds for youngsters with leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma. The project was launched with a kick-off video depicting some of the children the funds would aid, and boxes placed in classrooms collected change. The original, two-week goal of $1,000 was well surpassed, with donated gift cards awarded to students who brought $1 or more, chosen from a random drawing.

"I feel proud of myself," said Rennekar. "I did this project myself with the help of Mrs. Trent. I'm really glad I got the opportunity to do this."

Pennies for Patients may be accessed online at schoolandyouth.org.
One project still seeking the public's support was undertaken by Hailey Shipley, who says she was inspired after watching the Halo Awards, to investigate a project launched in Oregon, to fill cloth bags with fun activities for children and adults undergoing chemo therapy. Shipley partnered with classmate Sunny Clingler.

In fact, Shipley contacted the man behind the project online to learn more about "what he's doing, what goes in the bags, and how it makes the kids feel."

In addition to sending a letter seeking donated items home to CES parents, Shipley and Clingler have also reached out to Culver Academies, where teachers are speaking about the project to students.

Items needed include hard candies, lip gloss, lotion, teddy bears, nail polish, coloring books, crayons, Hot Wheels, bubbles, chalk, pink or blue cloth bags, scarves, tissues, hand sanitizer, notebooks or journals, pens, pockt photo albums, and more, which may be taken to the elementary school office by April 8. For more information on the project and requested items, visit mattschemobags.com.

"Hailey has been one of the best students as far as doing everything on her own," comments Trent. "She doesn't wait for me. When I'd ask if she had taken care of this or that, she kept saying, 'I've already done that!'"