West Jasper K-Kids show their support for B.A.R.K.
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 27, 2011 | 2120 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brylee Smith and members of West Jasper Elementary School’s K-Kids discuss where to hang the two paintings that the club purchased from B.A.R.K., Brylee’s new nonprofit that helps kids. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Brylee Smith and members of West Jasper Elementary School’s K-Kids discuss where to hang the two paintings that the club purchased from B.A.R.K., Brylee’s new nonprofit that helps kids. - Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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Brylee Smith has received a lot of support from her friends at Memorial Park since being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease last fall.

However, she was surprised to learn recently that students from another school wanted to get involved with her new nonprofit, Bry's Art Rewards Kids (B.A.R.K.).

West Jasper Elementary School's K-Kids raised $102 for B.A.R.K. by sponsoring several Hat Days. Their classmates gave them a small donation in exchange for the privilege of wearing a hat.

The club used the money to buy two B.A.R.K. paintings that they intend to hang in a prominent place in the school.

K-Kid Cameron Young didn't hesitate when asked why the group decided to support B.A.R.K. even though they had never met Brylee.

"We help kids all over the world," Cameron said.

K-Kids is a student-led community service organization that has been sponsored by Kiwanis International since 1998.

Club members pledge to serve their neighborhood and school, show respect toward the environment and try to make the world a better place in which to live.

West Jasper's K-Kids program was established in February for the school's third, fourth and fifth graders. Teachers select two representatives from each classroom based on their behavior and study habits.

Group sponsor Steve Woods said his K-Kids rarely need a lot of guidance from him.

"When we have our meetings, some of them will stand up and say, 'Mr. Woods, I think we ought to do something like this...," he said.

The club's first project was gathering toothbrushes and other supplies to be delivered to children in Panama by University of Alabama dental students who went on a mission trip there during spring break.

Supporting B.A.R.K. was the group's second assignment.

Proceeds from the sales of Brylee's art have been used to buy large remotes and a craft cart for the infusion room at Children's Hospital.

The next reward on the B.A.R.K. wish list is raising funds to rebuild APEX, an accessible playground that was severely damaged by fire on March 20.

"I liked the idea of helping B.A.R.K. because it was local and it allowed us to work with a child from another school," Woods said.

Next, the K-Kids plan to supply the local American Red Cross service center with comfort kits that will be given to disaster victims. They also hope to start a recycling program at their school.

Ten-year-old Brylee, who has juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), said she is thankful that the club saw B.A.R.K. as a worthy cause.

"When I heard that they had raised $100 and wanted to buy my paintings, it made me feel really good," Brylee said.