Allison Cole

As the youngest branch of the Oxford Kiwanis, Kramer Elementary school students involved in K-Kids will be undertaking a project to create larger habitats for certain Hueston Woods animals in May.

Making it the fourth branch of the Oxford Kiwanis, K-Kids, centered around service to schools and the community, began in the fall of 2006 for the students of Kramer Elementary.

K-Kids has existed nationally as part of the Kiwanis since 1998. It is now the final branch of the Oxford Kiwanis, rounding out the middle school, high school and college levels of the organization.

Mike Rudolph, an Oxford Kiwanis member, was instrumental in bringing K-Kids to the city.

“(The Kiwanis’) main vision is to work with the youth of Oxford,” Rudolph said.

According to Rudolph, one of the goals of starting a K-Kids in Oxford is to let kids at the elementary school age do service work in the community. He said the Kiwanis is hoping to build future leaders and encourage the K-Kids members to continue their Kiwanis membership throughout school and beyond.

“We want the kids to get an attitude of service and that helping out makes your community better,” Rudolph said.

Gail Paveza, president of the Oxford Kiwanis Club, explained that one goal in forming K-Kids is to involve children at the elementary school age in leadership activities.

“The sponsored youth clubs are devoted to service, fellowship and leadership,” Paveza said.

She believes this provides the kids with a well-rounded approach to service and growing in service.

“Membership is always encouraged to participate with the youth groups,” Paveza said.

Paveza said the Kiwanis is excited about K-Kids and the service they will bring to the community.

“We’re excited anytime this event can take place,” Paveza said.

To get the program started, Rudolph worked with fellow Kiwanis member Tara Jones; the principal of Kramer, Candace McIntosh; and Kramer faculty adviser for the K-Kids, Jay Hunsche.

The program currently contains 28 members and is limited the fifth graders at the elementary school.

Rudolph said the group is limited to the single grade because of the large number of kids within the school, and at the elementary age, it is hard to keep all the kids at a good attention span.

Paveza said there was a lot of interest at Kramer in the program.

Rudolph said the program has seen a lot of support from Kramer Elementary and from the parents of those involved in K-Kids.

Because service is a goal of the Kiwanis, Paveza said those involved in K-Kids will be allowed to choose and implement their own projects.

The first project K-Kids has selected is to work to develop a better habitat for both a cougar and bobcat that reside at Hueston Woods. She said the children would like to improve the small enclosure in which the cats live.

Rudolph said Hunsche thought of the idea, and the kids decided to take it on.

The cat cages will double in size, and it is the goal of the K-Kids members to design the habitats inside of the cages.

According to Rudolph, construction on the project will probably begin around mid-May. He said the kids will receive assistance from the Oxford Kiwanis and the community in general, from which local businesses have either donated or sold materials at cost for the project.

“The kids will be doing work along with other branches (of the Kiwanis) on the structure,” Paveza said.

Work between all of the Oxford branches of the Kiwanis is common, Paveza said, as all are dedicated to service.

This is evident in the work Circle K International Club, Miami University’s Kiwanis organization, plans to do with K-Kids.

According to Circle K president Jessica Harmon, the group is already involved at Kramer Elementary, participating in a reading program, and they plan to stay involved through the K-Kids.

“We plan on doing a variety of events with K-Kids in the coming year,” Harmon said.

According to Harmon, like other branches of the Kiwanis, service is Circle K’s main focus.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to give back,” Harmon said.

Circle K devotes volunteer time to many service projects, including the students living at One Way Farm, a safe home for abused and neglected children and power packing at Serve City in Hamilton, filling grocery bags with food for those in need.