Third-grade girls at Sacred Heart put good deeds into practice

There are school subjects that belong in every curriculum: reading, writing and 'rithmetic, as the old saying goes.
But there are other things we want our children to learn. And someone has to make the effort to see that those things get taught along the way.
Doing good deeds is something the girls in St. Therese's Little Flowers Club at Sacred Heart Catholic School are learning.
"I wanted to start a service club at the school," said Sarah Meitner, sponsor of the club, "And I thought of St. Therese."
St. Therese prepared for her first communion by doing simple acts of kindness as a gift to Jesus, so she seemed to be a good model to follow for young students also preparing for their first communion.
"We started by talking about giving back to the people at home, in school and in the community. The girls made garden posters and put stickers on them whenever they did a good deed," Meitner said.
The club has 13 members — every third grade girl attending Sacred Heart.
They meet every other week, or more often if they have a project to work on, and they do projects to benefit others.
They've done clean-up projects at the school, they made Bingo cards with examples of how to be polite in each square, they decorated and filled snack bags for Meadowlark House, they held a bake sale and used the proceeds to adopt a pony and a lemur at the zoo, they painted flower pots and planted flowers in them then gave them away.
"We always talk about doing good deeds anonymously," Meitner said.
Last year the girls involved the entire school in a penny drive. They raised $821. One of the first grade classes raised more than $200 by themselves. And the money was given to United Way, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association and Catholic Services.
At their meeting this week, the girls made Valentines to be delivered with Meals on Wheels next week.
The girls have made posters for an 8-year-old boy with cancer and posters for their teachers during Catholic Schools Week.
They wrote encouraging messages for mothers on diapers, so mom would get a friendly thought during the day: "You're doing a great job!" "Thanks for being my mom," or "Sorry it's so stinky."
"We really intended to disband the club after the girls had their first communion, but they were intent on continuing. In fact, they fully expect to be doing this all the way through 8th grade," Meitner said.
Club activities have had unexpected benefits.
"I think that the process of working together as a team has helped the girls avoid some of the pitfalls of this age like forming cliques and saying bad things about others," Meitner said. "It's also a good way to build bridges across cultures."
Meitner and her husband, Chad, who is the principal of Sacred Heart, moved to Dodge City from Salina three years ago.
"The school there had a big service club that involved the whole school," Meitner said.
And although Meitner has had requests to expand the program to include other grade levels and the boys, she says she'd need at least one other parent to step forward to add any more activities.
"So far, no takers," she said.
Meanwhile, the girls will continue to dream up good deeds and put them into action. Meitner says they're always looking for ways to help the community.
Any organization that could use the help of some very enthusiastic third-grade girls is encourages to contact the school.

Follow Don Steele on Twitter @Don_dcglobe.