K-Kids deliver Easter cards to residents at Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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By Angela Cutrer
Star Correspondent
Eric Dunlap and Mathew Tynes sponsor a youth group at West Side Elementary School called the Kiwanis-Kids Club (K-Kids). Its purpose is to serve the school as well as the Elizabethton community at large through various projects.
The club’s latest project was entirely student developed, planned and executed, Tynes said. “Our fifth graders are learning servant-leadership,” he said. “We could not be more proud!”
Some weeks ago the K-Kids distributed letters and materials to each classroom at West Side. The letter requested that teachers schedule time for their students to design with color and an inscription an Easter card for someone they may never meet. Additionally, all the students had an opportunity to contribute to several Easter egg garland strings.
The next step was for K-Kids to deliver Easter cards to residents at Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community at 1504 W. Elk Ave. in Elizabethton. While on campus, K-Kids worked with the Sycamore Springs residents to complete and then hang decorations. Activity Director Jordan Bishop assisted with coordination of the activities during that visit at the center March 16.
“We hope this [activity] conveys the hard work, dedication, sacrifice and leadership of West Side Elementary School’s Kiwanis-Kids Club,” Tynes said. “Furthermore, each K-Kid is an incredibly important citizen of our community. Every child is important for the contributions he or she makes. And most importantly, each K-Kid is developing habits of living and giving that seems uncommon in much of today’s culture. These children will lead, and they will lead well in the days ahead.”
Kiwanis International is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to “improving the world, one child, and one community at a time.” The local chapter of Kiwanis sponsors groups of students at each school level. High school and middle school students participate in Key Club and Builders Club, respectively. In elementary school, fifth graders lead the staff and student body in K-Kids.
West Side Elementary School’s K-Kids are supported by two staff personnel and Jared Tetrick, a member of the Elizabethton Chapter of Kiwanis International. The students are nominated by staff members and then must complete an application and interview process.
Once membership is conferred on 20 students, they nominate and select officers to lead their club. Meetings are student-led according to formal rules of order.
From commencement; reporting and recording of minutes; accounting of funds; discussions of the past, present, and future business; conveyance of decision making; assignment review; and adjournment, students lead while adults observe – and guide only as needed. West Side K-Kids’ meetings are held after school on the third Thursday of each month.
The March 16 visit of the K-Kids to Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community brought cheer to all 42 residents. “I really enjoyed helping the people that lived there,” said K-Kid Beatrix Chesman. “It was good because everyone participated in making the eggs and hanging them up. I liked to see the residents smile when we put them up in their rooms or the halls.”
Samira Ebanks said she “really liked the lady I worked with. She was super nice to me! Everyone was all happy and it was cool.”
Carter Kennon admitted to being a bit apprehensive meeting strangers. “At first I was a little bit scared to meet new people I didn’t know,” he said. “Then they were all so nice. That was good. They were nice. I like that they told us stories about their life… like when some of them were in the war. I didn’t know some of that stuff!”
Nahla Wiley said “it was all good! I liked working with them to color the eggs we made. Then when we got all done, they were happy and proud to hang them up in their rooms. That was my favorite part!”
Cain Gutierrez added that “it was best just to be good company for them. Then we got to make decorations like eggs to hang up all around so they could enjoy them. It was also fun when I got to go into the memory center because I was someone who translated from Spanish to English for a Mexican woman. That made me feel good!”
In addition to other efforts, earlier this school year K-Kids led West Side students in collecting more than 1,500 cans of food. These cans were delivered to and sorted at a food bank housed by Elizabethton Community Church. Hundreds of individuals benefited from this collaborative effort as food was distributed to those in great need.

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