Building cultural bridges

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:12

    SPARTA-Members of the Sparta Middle School Builders Club are making life n and school n a little easier for children in Iraq. The Builders Club, a service organization at the school, recently sent three boxes of school supplies to a middle school in Baghdad, the latest in a long list of service projects the club has spearheaded this year. The club sponsored a benefit basketball game between teachers and eighth-graders on April 7. Admission was a school supply item. Danielle Schmidt, advisor to the club, said they collected three large cardboard boxes full notebooks, pencils, markers and other supplies. About $50 in cash was donated in a collection can at the entrance to the game, which was used to pay for postage to mail the donation to the Baghdad school, she said. "It was great," Schmidt said. "It was a close game and the kids had a lot of fun." Schmidt presented the idea of donating the school supplies to Iraqi children after hearing about a school in Iraq that lack basic materials. Schmidt's two cousins are in the military, serving in Iraq, and one of their Army units has adopted a middle school. "The school has many grades and the teachers had no supplies and the students had no supplies," she said. "So we decided to help." Schmidt, a new teacher at Sparta Middle School, got together with another new teacher, Tara Towers, who was interested in having a faculty-student basketball game. About 30 eighth-graders participated in the game, against about 20 faculty members. The event was well attended and considered a success by the club, she said. The club would like to do another benefit game next year, for another cause. The Builders Club, a youth organization sponsored by the Sparta Kiwanis Club, has about 60 members, students in sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grades, who participate in about a dozen projects throughout the school year. A core group of between 15 and 20 seventh- and eighth-graders are regular organizers at events and biweekly meetings, Schmidt said. Club members helped with the Sparta Winter Carnival, the Sparta Recreation Department's Halloween Fright Night, a SCARC food drive, a toy drive at Christmas, and the school PTO's market day fundraiser. They served as waiters and waitresses at the "Pasta and Pops" musical event, and made toiletry packages for patients being discharged from the hospital. "The kids are really enthusiastic," Schmidt said.