By Alicia Dziak

Every year, seventh grade students at SGI Middle School work on a special project in their social studies and ELA classes called Kids Can Make a Difference, known as KCMAD to those of us who have kids who have done it in the past. The year-long KCMAD project involves students choosing an organization to work with, and then coming up with various service-oriented activities to help that organization. The students then present their projects to their teachers, classmates and parents in the spring.

Seventh grader Justin Simmons has gotten an early on his project, organizing a book drive for the Springville Kiwanis Club’s Toy and Book drive.  “My mom posted on her Facebook page asking friends for suggestions for my Kids Can Make a Difference project,” Justin explained. “We received many great ideas, but helping the Kiwanis Club is what I was most interested in.  Dave Guadagna of the Kiwanis Club organizes the Toys for Tots event.  He responded to my mom’s post and wondered if I would like to help him with it.  Since I really wanted to do something to help kids in our community, I was very excited about this opportunity.”

He was most drawn to the Kiwanis Club “because they help out kids in need in our own community of Springville.

Justin added that the Kiwanis Club of Springville will also join with other Kiwanis Clubs to take on large scale projects like Iodine Deficiency, eliminating Neonatal Tetanus, and Pediatric Lyme Disease, etc.  “They do a lot in our community and there are many more projects I can help with in the future too,” he said. “Some of the other things they do are an Arbor Day event, scholarships, The Children’s League multi-purpose room and the Pageant of Bands (that I march in).”

“Justin kept coming back to helping kids in his community and doing something with trees,” said his mother, Andrea. “The Kiwanis Club fulfilled both of those desires and more.  He plans to continue to work with them on future events like their Arbor Day event and other projects throughout the year.”

For his part of the project, Justin is asking for donations of gently used and new children’s and young adult books to be donated to the collection boxes at the Concord library and the Middle School lobby. The books will then go to the Kiwanis Club to be distributed to local children in need.

Organizing this book drive was no easy task.

“The biggest challenge was getting everything organized quickly,” Justine noted. “I wrote a proposal to the principal of the middle school to get approval to set up a donation box.  I made posters and decorated a box for the donations.  This all took a little time.  I also asked the library if they would allow me to put a donation box there as well.  They were very happy to do so.”

“Justin has been very excited about this project,” added Andrea. “I think he will truly feel the difference he is making when he helps to give out all the books he has collected at the Toy Drive.  The holiday season is a time of giving and participating in this event will let him experience the true meaning of the season.”

“My goal is to collect enough books that every child at the Toy Drive gets to take home at least one (but hopefully more) books,”’ Justin said.

Help Justin make his book drive a success! The Kiwanis Club Toy/ Book Drive is going on now with donation boxes for books at the Concord Library and Springville Middle School lobby.  Boxes for toys are located in Springville at Tractor Supply, Joylan Theater and Love, Inc.  Distribution of donations will be Dec. 9.

If you have a KCMAD project you’d like to be considered for being featured the Springville Times, email