BROOKSVILLE — The Eastside Elementary School K-Kids, the elementary school level service organization sponsored by Kiwanis, have been mighty busy this school year. Most recently, they made and packaged dog biscuits and made cat toys to take to the Humane Society.
"We used oil and water and flour and smushed all the ingredients in a bowl and put it out flat with a rolling pin," said the group's president Arianna Minnie, 10, grade 5.
The students cut out shapes: fish, stars, hearts, umbrellas and dog toys. Their teachers took them home to bake.
Back at school, students packed the biscuits in bags to take to the dogs. "We give dog biscuits to them," Arianna said. "We feed them to the dogs, so we actually go there.
"This year we're taking dog biscuits and cat toys for the cats, 'cause last year we didn't and we felt bad about the cats," Arianna said. "We go there because we want to help them and we like the environment and animals."
The students made cat toys by filling baby socks with fluff and a pinch of catnip. They tied them closed with yarn and decorated them with faces. "The yarn," Arianna explained, "is like a tail and it looks like a mouse."
Another activity at a recent meeting was the creation of appreciation bags for teachers. Their advisers, third-grade teacher Cindy Kinner and fourth-grade teacher Kelly Slaga, directed the students to put chocolate pieces and bookmarks into decorated bags to give to teachers as a post-FCAT surprise.
"It's, like, to appreciate them," said Arianna. "We're happy to be their students."
This particular K-Kids group has an environmental theme. The students collect recyclables each Friday (if it's not raining) from classrooms around the school. They pick up paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. These students designed shirts and badges to identify them while they're collecting. The shirts and badges were produced by the Brooksville Kiwanis.
Bins for recyclables are outside classrooms and the K-Kids take them to a county-provided compartmented dumpster. Each classroom has a posted sign describing what items are acceptable for the school's recycling program.
"We started this program three years ago," said Kinner.
"I care for the environment," said Arianna, a third-year K-Kid, "and I want to help the environment and animals. I think it's important to care for the environment because it's where we live and we don't want trash."
The K-Kids encourage the classes to participate with monthly winners for consistency in collecting the reusable materials. "Some classrooms don't recycle," said Kinner, so participating rooms are rewarded with ice pops and ribbons. A chart recognizes the participants, too.
The program is so well established in Kinner's classroom that her own students police her in case she strays. "If I throw a piece of paper in the basket by mistake, my students will say, 'Ms. Kinner, recycle,' " she said.
"I've been in K-Kids since it started and this is our 10th anniversary," Kinner said. "I get so much out of it. I think it's important to offer it to help our students grow. We try to promote our K-Kids to be good role models."