Eco Club project helps Woodview School students learn importance of helping others
For their first-ever community service project, members of the Eco Club at Grafton’s Woodview Elementary School made sure they had everything well-covered.
Not only did the 10 students in the after-school group collect more than 200 winter garments for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, they learned the value of organization, communication, teamwork and helping others.
“It’s worked out great,” said Jennifer Kapetsonis, a Woodview parent who supervises the club with her father Dennis Baierl.
“We originally thought that if we could get 100 items donated, that would be good, but we more than doubled that.”
The club, which includes students in kindergarten through fifth grade, was formed in October as part of an initiative by the Woodview Parent-Teacher Group. Parent Beth Ramshaw spearheaded the effort before turning over the reins.
The club, which meets for one hour every other week, decided to tackle a community-service project that would be mutually beneficial, Kapetsonis said.
While planning the collection drive, which ran from Jan. 15 to 29, club members learned how cold weather impacts lives, especially among disadvantaged families. They put up posters and a collection box, got the word out through e-mails and by telling family members and friends and even did an announcement over the school’s public address system.
“We made a collection box, and a lot of people gave things,” club member Gretchen Thatcher said.
“We’re giving sweaters to people who don’t have homes,” fellow member Leo Ramshaw said.
By the deadline date, the clothes drive received 75 garments for women, 32 for men, 45 for infants, 28 for boys and 20 for girls. Most of the items were sweaters and sweatshirts.
The totals continued to grow after the deadline, Kapetsonis said. This week, she, her son Anthony Kapetsonis (a club member) and her father delivered the donations and students’ notes to the Rescue Mission, toured the facility, took photos and will report back about their visit.
“The students did an amazing job,” Woodview Principal Nathan Joynt said. “They not only helped people, they learned how to express themselves and become change agents.
“A project like this helps them see how they can make a difference in other peoples’ lives.”
The Eco Club, Joynt said, is one of several new after-school groups organized in fall by the parent-teacher organization, which has also formed clubs for interest areas such as Legos, chess and Spanish.
Eco Club members have participated in a variety of nature-themed projects, including planting bulbs, learning about bird migration and making suet feeders.
Baierl said several other club activities are being planned, including a bluebird house project this spring. After building the houses, club members will place them on the school grounds and monitor their use by feathered friends, he said.
Above all, club members said, they want to continue helping people.
“We should do this every year,” Gretchen said of the clothes drive.
Image information: MEMBERS OF THE ECO CLUB at Woodview Elementary School in Grafton posed with garments they collected for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and notes they wrote to accompany the donations. Shown are (front row,
from left) Leo Ramshaw, Logan Oberheu, Phoebe Ramshaw, Isabella Brosnahan, (middle row) Anthony Kapetsonis, Gretchen Thatcher, Samantha Eichelkraut, Camille Thatcher, Isabella Crowley, (back row) Beth Ramshaw, principal Nathan Joynt, Dennis Baierl and Jennifer Kapetsonis. Not shown is club member Kayla Schopbach. Photo by Sam Arendt