While some teachers went on vacation during the summer break from classes, one Copperas Cove teacher was busy planning for all the work that lay ahead for the year to come.

Pre-kindergarten teacher Ann Marie Aker, of Clements/Parsons Elementary School, knew she wanted to do more with her students outside the classroom teaching them things that can be taught only through life experience.

“I started thinking about it over the summer ... what kind of club I could create and projects we could do,” Aker said. “I did a lot of research because I have never done anything like this before. But I knew I wanted it to be community service-based.”

Aker, one of this year’s VFW Post 8577 Teachers of the Year, presented it to her principal, got approval and started the Kids Care Club in September.

Approximately 100 students plus their families participate in the club’s various projects, which are scheduled once a month. The club organized a baby shower for Gabriel’s Project, made adoption bandanas and dog biscuits for the city’s animal shelter, and adopted a military unit at Fort Hood. Last week, Aker, her students, and their parents served homemade soup and bread to the residents at Cove House.

“My biggest vision is to have the kids understand what it means to give back. No matter what the age, everyone can help,” Aker said. “Together, we can make even more of a difference.”

On Monday, the club conducted a toy drive bringing in 200 toys and filling 10 large bags. Marines from Toys for Tots picked up the donations and will come back to distribute the toys Dec. 19-21 based on applications received through Cove House.

“My girls want to be part of the group,” said Elizabeth Sokolowski, mother of Allison, 8, and Angela, 6. “This is all new for us and we just started (helping with the projects). This is a good way for the girls to learn to help others.”

The Kids Care Club recently received $750 from the Coppers Cove Education Foundation to continue its community service efforts.

“I just want (the program) to grow. The kids want to do so much,” Aker said. “My worry is that the school year is going to end before we can do everything on their list.”

Contact Wendy Sledd at wsledd@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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