As I walked into Key Peninsula Middle School on other business a couple weeks ago, I was asked, “Did you get our message?” I hadn’t. Not a problem. I was encouraged to hurry to the library, where I found a wonderful group of seventh-graders busily employing scissors on bed-sheet-sized colorfully patterned fields of fabric spread over a plethora of horizontal surfaces.
“They are either measuring or trimming the front and back material,” explained Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club advisor Mike Scholtens. He added that these youngsters are members of the KPMS Builders Club, which is sponsored by the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club.
Scholtens later explained that, “You left before they began the main cutting and tying.”
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The club was chartered in the summer of 2016 and started meetings and projects in the fall. The club’s KPMS faculty advisor is Paula Grande. The objectives of the club are: To provide opportunities for working together in service to school and community; To provide leadership opportunities; To foster development of a strong moral character; and To encourage loyalty to school, community and nation.
“The Builders Club is like a family focusing on the problems in our community and trying to find solutions,” said club vice president Kadence Stoddard.
Classmate Emily Hansen added, “This club allows us to meet new people while assisting our community.”
Prior to the 2016 holidays, the club participated in Minter Creek Elementary School’s “Make It, Take It” project, assisting elementary students in making handcrafted holiday gifts for their families. Upcoming projects include volunteering at the Eastside Baby Corner, West Sound Branch in Bremerton, and raising money through a bake sale to support a local charity or a noted children’s hospital research center.
“In all, they made 10 blankets. One was auctioned at the GH Kiwanis meeting the next day for $30, which goes to the Builders Club, and the other nine are being donated to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma,” Scholtens said.
Club treasurer MaryAnna Swainston said, “With these blankets I hope to make children safe and happy in a time of need.”
Fellow club member Kaleah Erickson hopes “to make lives better in our community.”
The blankets made in this project were donated to the Comfy Closet facility within Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma.
Builders Club is the portion of Kiwanis International’s Service Leadership Programs dedicated to middle school students. Kiwanis Key Clubs are also well established at the high school level. In addition to the KPMS Builders Club, the Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club sponsors Key Clubs at both Peninsula and Gig Harbor high schools.
To club president Frankie Kelly, “Working with all of our friends has been so fun. All our members are such great role models and we can’t wait to work in our community.”
And I was so lucky to have a few moments with our nation’s future leaders.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.