Caring as homework
Two Starside elementary students shine in school’s community service emphasis
Starside Elementary students Erin Cahoone and Madison Bryant have done their homework in giving.
Second-grader Madison and third-grader Erin decided soon after the start of the school year to raise money for the Starside PTA.
"Maddie's mom does work for the PTA," Erin said while putting her hand on the shoulder of her best friend and neighbor. "We heard the PTA needed more money for field trips and stuff. We decided to have a garage sale to raise money for the PTA."
The two girls had two garage sales, the second during the De Soto citywide garage sale last month. They also ran a lemonade stand soon after the start of school.
The girls' community service spirit surprised Erin's mother, Amy Cahoone. It was the eve of the first garage sale before she knew what the girls had in mind.
"I knew they were going to have a garage sale, but I had no idea they were going to give the money to the PTA," she said. "I was very pleased to see how much money they decided to donate."
The girls' inventiveness was reflected in the products they offered at the garage sales. In addition to stuffed animals and other used toys, the girls sold toy guitars and drums they built out of cardboard.
"We were just playing a game, and we decided to make toys," Madison said.
Through all their efforts, the girls raised $20 for the PTA, Erin said.
Erin doesn't have to look far to find an example of community service. Her mother volunteers to perform tasks for at the Starside office.
"My mom set a good example for me," the elder Cahoone said. "I hope I set an example for her."
The girls' decision to donate their time and money to the PTA didn't happen by chance. Starside Elementary and other USD 232 schools are putting greater emphasis on community service this year, said Starside counselor Paula Henderson.
The district is participating in the Kansas City Youth Service Alliance, a area foundation founded by Henry Block of H&R Block. In the program, students who complete 50 hours of community service from May 1, 2002 to April 30, 2003 will receive a pin and certificate, Henderson said.
Moreover, if Starside has 5 percent of its enrollment earn 50 hours or more of community service hours, it would be designated a school of service, Henderson said.
Madison was the first Starside student complete 50 hours of community service, Henderson said, but she was not alone in her efforts.
"We have students doing incredible things," she said. "One of the first inklings I had this was going to work was when I was downtown this summer. There was a whole group of girls walking down main street, picking up trash. When I asked them want they were doing, they said, 'We're getting our hours.'"
Every Thursday, students with a note from parents stay after school until 5 p.m. for community service activities, Henderson said.
"We thought it would start out with big numbers and dwindle," she said. "That's not the way it is. We have more and more students every night."
The goal of the community service program is the same as that of arithmetic, Henderson said. It is to serve as a basis for future achievement.
"They are finding those who start at a young age giving to their community have a much higher percentage of people giving to their community throughout their lives, " she said.
Erin said one good deed the girls performed during their garage sale gave her a special feeling she would like to recapture.
"My next-door neighbor Ryan we gave him a stuffed animal," she said. "It's nice to see him walking around with it."