SIKESTON -- Earlier this fall, Marie Anderson of Sikeston attended a Modern Woodmen of America conference in Dexter, where group leaders spoke of their efforts in leading youth groups.
"The kids seemed to be responding really well," Anderson said.
She was so impacted by the stories that she heard Anderson decided to start her own branch of a youth group in Sikeston.
"I want to get the kids off the streets," she said. "We've got plenty of (activities) here already, but when it comes to children, you can't have enough."
The Youth Service Club will have its first meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at Prince of Peace Church, 924 Lora in Sikeston.
Modern Woodmen will help facilitate meetings, as well as provide financial support.
"The company sponsors it and furnishes the money for refreshments and other needs," said Ronald Ledbetter of Essex, a local representative.
Youth between ages 7 and 16 are invited to join the club and attend the first meeting on Saturday.
"It's to teach the children how to get involved in community work," said Anderson.
"The youth club is to teach citizenship and patriotism and just good all-
around respect," added Ledbetter.
Although this Saturday's meeting is purely organizational in purpose, the other meetings will include a trip or some sort of service project, Anderson said. For instance, in December, the group will visit a nursing home.
"We'll sing or read to the residents," Anderson said.
Group members will also be encouraged to initiate their own service projects, and make volunteering a habit. "I want to let them know that they can donate their time within the community," Anderson said. "I want to instill in them that once they grow up and go off they can still help other folks."
For instance, she said some leaders at the conference spoke of how some teens responded so well to the program they started their own.
"They'll go off into another community and form the same thing," Anderson said. "Or if they're in a larger community, they'll form a second group."
The program also helps families grow closer, Anderson said. "Other leaders said the children were excited; and they got great responses from the children and the parents."
Part of that is due to the group's encouragement to children to help out around their houses, too -- such as cleaning up a room or taking out the trash, Ledbetter said.
Anderson noted that group members will have a sheet of tasks to fulfill each month. "If they fulfill all the requirements and get their paperwork in on time, they get to go on a trip," she said.
The first trip, which isn't planned until 2009, will be to the Hershey Chocolate Factory in Pennsylvania.
Anderson said she has high hopes for the group. "I think it will be a good program for youth."
For more information about becoming a member of the club, call Ledbetter at 573-283-5925.