None of these kids are old enough to go out and get a job.
They also have trouble finding places where they can volunteer.
So, they formed the “Helping Hands Club” to do something about that.
Twelve-year-old Caileigh Brown, a sixth-grader at Rushe Middle School, came up with the idea.
Other members of the club are 11-year-old Isabella Steady, a sixth-grader at Rushe; 11-year-old Alexis Hopper, a sixth-grader at Rushe; 13-year-old Kaylee Roy, an eighth-grader at Rushe; 10-year-old Ella Neuffer, a fifth-grader at Oakstead Elementary; and, 9-year-old Gavin Brown, Caileigh’s little brother, a fourth-grader at Oakstead.
The group formed shortly before the holidays.
The club meets on weekends at Heather Shisler’s home in Land O’ Lakes. Shisler is Gavin and Caileigh’s mom.
The meetings generally last about 90 minutes.
Early on, the kids focused on figuring out things they’d like to do.
So far, they helped at Sunrise of Pasco Inc., a domestic violence shelter, and at Zaksee’s Bird Sanctuary.
They sorted out a storage closet at the domestic violence shelter, and they helped do some cleaning and planted seeds at the bird sanctuary.
Club members said they’ve tried to get involved before, but have had trouble gaining momentum.
“In fourth and fifth grade, we would try to make these volunteer groups to help people. None of them were ever successful,” Steady said.
“A lot of the things that we actually wanted to do, we’re too young. You have to be 16,” Brown said.
Neuffer said she enjoys being in the club. “I love helping out people,” she said.
Brown’s little brother, Gavin, is first to admit he was drafted into the club. But, he said, he enjoys being part of it.
Shisler lets the club meet at her house, helps the kids with setting up volunteer opportunities and transporting them.
The group’s goal is to complete at least one — but hopefully more — volunteer activities each month.
The opportunities need to be within the general area, and need to be tasks that can be completed within a day or less.
The idea is to make a difference, the kids say.
“It’s a good thing to do in your free time, instead of watching TV,” Roy said.
The kids know there are a number of chores they can perform.
In some cases, they may be able to do chores for pay, such as babysitting or dog walking, in which case the money they earn would go for a charitable cause, they said.
Glenda Steady, who is Isabella’s mom, is grateful for Shisler’s willingness to open her home for club meetings, to help set volunteer appointments and to transport the kids.
She thinks the kids will benefit immensely. “They want to do something for others. I think it is awesome.”
Justin Hopper, who is Alexis’s dad, is also glad his daughter is involved.
He believes belonging to the club will help teach the kids about the satisfaction that comes from being of service to others. “It will serve them well the rest of their lives,” he said.
He also said their desire to help is sincere.
“There’s a lot of stuff they’re willing to do,” he said. “There’s really no lack of heart in this group.”
The kids hope their club will set a good example for other kids, and might inspire others to start their own clubs.
Published February 15, 2017