A group of elementary school students stuffed backpacks full of food for their classmates, collect plastic bottle caps to be repurposed and wrote holiday cards for patients at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Hospital in Indianapolis.

The K-Kids Club at Center Grove Elementary School focuses on community service.

The group started as an ecology club a few years ago but now is service-oriented.

Sponsor Karen Isenhour said she kept uncovering community needs when she was teaching ecology club students about the environment.

“We had always done the ecology club,” she said. “We would find people that

need help.”

She teamed up with Kiwanis International to form a K-Kids Club, a service club that is sponsored by the organization.

The 68-member club includes students in second through fifth grades. It meets nearly monthly to figure out how the members can help their school and community.

Last year, they collected 845 pound of plastic caps that they sent to a company that turned the trash into furniture.

Now the school has a “buddy bench,” where kids who are feeling shy and lonely can sit and have a peer play with them, Isenhour said.

This year they are collecting caps to be made into a picnic table.

“If a child wants a child to play with them, they just have to sit on the bench,” she said.

Kids like the club because it combines learning about the environment with

helping others, one student said.

“We do stuff that is helping the environment and other people,” fourth-grader Ava Meyer said. “Instead of throwing away plastic, we are putting it to good use. It helps the environment. The better the environment, the better we will be.”

The latest project was helping classmates through the “blessings in backpacks” program. Students stuffed lunch and breakfast items into backpacks for their peers who aren’t sure where their weekend meals are coming from, Isenhour said.

Next they will make Valentine’s Day cards for residents of a nursing home.