For the past three years, Kiwanis Builders Club at La Cañada High School has been growing, reaching its capacity of 35 eighth graders with a waiting list of students who wish to join. Membership is currently limited due to space constrictions at the school.
Recently, officers of the LCHS Kiwanis Builders Club joined the adult members of the Noon Club for its weekly meeting at Descanso Gardens. The students reported on some of their most recent activities that included a Thanksgiving food drive. They came just short of collecting 300 pounds of canned food items to help the L.A. County Regional Food Bank to stock its pantry shelves. The students also have an ongoing commitment to the San Francisco-based Project Night-Night organization, which donates over 25,000 Night-Night packages each year to homeless children who need childhood essentials to feel secure, cozy, and prepared to learn.
This Christmas season, the students collected Christmas cards for Dalton Dingus, a 9-year-old boy who lives in Kentucky and suffers from stage 4 Cystic Fibrosis. The Builders Club members learned that Dalton was sent home from the hospital and told that doctors could do nothing further to help him. He had a final wish to beat the Guinness World Record for receiving the most Christmas cards – currently 35,000 cards. The Builders put all other projects on hold to try to help break the record. Their work helped Dalton to collect 42,000 cards. Additionally, club members collected $104.95 in donations for UNICEF through a trick-or-treat program at Halloween.
Bryan Schwartz, a financial planner, and Rolando Morales, LCF branch manager at Gilmore Bank, mentor the student club sponsored by the Noon Kiwanis Club of La Cañada. Sam Picture, a teacher at the middle school at LCHS is the very active and involved faculty advisor. Picture runs two study halls each week. One day is dedicated to leadership development and the other with the Builders Club. Schwartz and Morales have been the sponsors of the club since past president Nick Berkuta appointed them three years ago.
Schwartz likes the fact that the children choose to be members of the club.
“To choose to be in a class where they can serve and learn leadership skills takes extra effort,” he said. He added that the club’s activities are focused on integrated projects with the high school students in the Key Club and with the Noon Kiwanis. “Sam Picture is a dedicated teacher, like many others at our high school, and he should be given credit on the work he has done in forming and mentoring this club and its student members. He provides function and boundaries as he molds them into responsible members of the community.”
When the students move onto the ninth grade and into La Cañada High School, it is the hope of Schwartz, Morales, and Picture that they will continue their work as Kiwanians by joining the Key Club at LCHS.
Contributed by Al RESTIVO