Optimist Club plans to follow students

       The Westside Optimist Club plans to follow its students.

Volunteers from the Westside Optimist Club offer goodies to students during a function at Washington Elementary. The club plans to follow the Washington students to the new, larger West Elementary.
Courtesy of Tom Hendrix

       For about a dozen years, the service organization has sponsored programs and performed a variety of volunteer support tasks for Washington Elementary's roughly 250 students. Now, with Washington having closed, the Optimists plan to help in similar ways at the larger West Elementary (estimated for 320 kids) that's being created for the upcoming school year inside the West Middle School building.
       “Supposedly we'll have more kids, but we'll just carry on the activities we've been doing,” said Tom Hendrix, who co-founded the local club in 1992.
       According to Hendrix, the events that Westside Optimists plan to organize at West - the way they did at Washington - include the following:
  • The TriStar basketball competition (which can culminate with students getting to play at a Nuggets game).
  • An October carnival (with proceeds going to the PTA)
  • Gift baskets for low-income families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • The purchase of various student necessities.
  • A monthly “youth appreciation day” (in which two students are recognized and given a $20 gift card each).
  • A sock hop, with hot dogs or pizza (“whatever they would like to have,” Hendrix noted) and popcorn too, with the Optimists serving out food and drinks and volunteering their time.
  • An artwork display and ice cream social (a fundraiser for 25 cents a scoop, “and our scoops aren't real scoops, we really dish it out,” Hendrix laughed.)
           All in all, he said, “it seems like we have something going on all the time.”
           A new idea for the coming year is a possible oratorical contest, possibly with the older students, he said.
           The club's Washington involvement had been started by the late Francis Redington, a long-time volunteer who built the carnival booths that were still in use last year, Hendrix said. Redington died in 2003.
           The Optimists consist of about 20 members, including 10 charter members. New members are always welcome. For more information, call 632-2055.

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