Discovery’s K-Kids craft smiles for South American students

February 1, 2011

By Christopher Huber

Visitors had to be careful not to step on any teeth as they stepped into Lori Moorman’s kindergarten class Jan. 19. They didn’t find any real teeth on the floor, but many of the about 50 students in the Discovery Elementary School K-Kids club spent time after school on projects that included drawing posters with big smiles on them.

Students from kindergarten through fifth grade buzzed around the room, stringing beads, composing pages for booklets, and drawing signs and posters for the club’s service project. One of six or so projects the club conducts throughout the year, this one benefited Sammamish-based nonprofit organizations International Smile Power and Kids Without Borders.

“The most rewarding thing you can do is have kids that want to give back to the community,” said Janna Redman, fifth-grade teacher and K-Kids staff adviser.

The children spent a good hour creating friendship bracelets, necklaces and booklets for children in Bolivia. Smile Power will deliver them during a service trip in March, Moorman said, along with toothbrushes collected in the upcoming drive.

Fifth-graders Andrew Tenczar, Mariah Alexander and their friends made booklets for Bolivian youths.

“Children, whether in Uganda, Mexico or Bolivia, all are completely amazed that kids in the United States know and care enough about them to send them gifts like Discovery’s booklets,” said Susan Evans, a member of Smile Power’s board of directors. “The children around the world feel that if someone in the wealthy U.S. cares about them, they must have value and therefore a future.”

“Hola. My name is…” read the necklace placards and booklet covers, above each student’s photo. The students drew pictures of their families, pets and favorite foods — a slice of American life.

“It’s fun, because it shows kids in Bolivia people care for them,” Tenczar said. “It’s is my favorite thing to do in the year.”

Tenczar said he has participated in the K-Kids club since first grade. The club has been doing projects like this one for years, students and parent organizers said.

Felt-tipped markers rolled off of tables, and colorful plastic beads bounced on the floor as students tried to thread string through them. Parent advisers Christy McGraw and Kari Anne Tuohy tied knots for the necklaces and bracelets, while other students sprawled on the floor to outline drawings for posters.

“I like doing it, because we’re helping kids who don’t have a lot,” Alexander said. “We’re helping the community be a better place.”

Redman highlighted the importance of instilling in young students a strong sense of giving and thinking outside of themselves.

“It’s nice there’s a club at school where they can do it,” Redman said. “There’s so much we can do.”

In addition to the Smile Power project, the club will collect donated clothing at Discovery to give to Kids Without Borders, Moorman and Redman said. The drive will provide much-needed late-winter clothing for youths in the Seattle area. Throughout the year, the club plans projects including collecting food for the hungry in Issaquah and stuffed animals for victims of fire and other stressful emergencies, according to a staff-approved project list.

Tenczar and Alexander both explained how projects like these help them see how good they have it, and how little things can help others.

“It makes me feel grateful I live here,” Tenczar said.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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