Thursday, April 17th, 2014



8-year-olds bring neighbors closer together

Kay Breece (right) pours tea for Kaylie Trentman (far left) and Katy Dunkley. The 8-year-olds were treated to a tea party at Breeces home to celebrate a letter-writing  project they masterminded this summer.

Katy and Kaylie decorated their letters to neighbors with plenty of color and illustrations.

Theres much talk these days about people not knowing their neighbors and children spending too much time in front of the television. With pens and markers in hand, two 8-year-old London girls bucked both of these trends this summer.

“We were bored one day and thought of doing a program, said Katy Dunkley, referring to the letter-writing project she and her best friend, Kaylie Trentman, concocted as a way to pass summer vacation.

The duo, soon to be third-graders at London Elementary, live on East Park Avenue, not far from the Madison County Fairgrounds. They decided to drop letters off at the homes of about 10 of their neighbors. Kay Breece, who lives at 255 E. Park Ave., was among them.

“The first note showed up (at my house) on June 6. It read, ‘Dear K, We are happy you are on are sreet, and it explained that Id be getting a letter from them every three days, said Breece, who has lived on East Park for over 19 years.

Breece knew the girls families, but not extremely well. She wondered if she was the only neighbor to get the letters and was tickled to find out others were on the receiving end, too. When one of the early notes asked,Do you like us doing this, Breece promptly colored in theyes circle and sent it back to Katy, as instructed.

“This has been keeping the neighborhood occupied and entertained most of the summer, said Breece.

Dick and Maxine McSavaney were on Katy and Kaylies letter route. The couple moved to East Park Avenue in 1976, about the same time their first grandchild was born. At that time, few families with young children lived in the neighborhood. Now, the opposite is true, and theyre enjoying the infusion of youthful activity.

“I thought it was cute that the children were interested in their neighbors, said Maxine.The notes were very well written for children their age, and it seemed to fill their afternoons. Years go, that was the way children filled their afternoons—riding their bikes, playing in the yard. They entertained themselves a lot instead of being entertained by the TV.

According to Kaylie, she and Katy wrote the letters and made any accompanying crafts—like an embellished headband and drawings of neighbors houses—during sleepovers and other get-togethers. Family vacations kept them from maintaining the every-three-days schedule, but they let neighbors know of the change, saying theyd writewhenever they could.

Manymembers of the program wrote back to the girls, Breece included. A former grade school and preschool teacher in London and West Jefferson, Breece turned Katy and Kaylies summer project into a summer project of her own.

“I did a speech at Toastmasters about the girls. I passed their letters around and asked the group how I should respond, she said.The group suggested I send the girls a questionnaire so I could get to know them better. They also said I should throw them a tea party.

Breece now knows the childrens favorite colors, books, classes in school, and playtime activities. She also knows they enjoy a good tea party.

On Aug. 6, Katy, Kaylie and many of the letter recipients donned fancy hats and pretty clothes to consume refreshments on Breeces front lawn. Breece presented the girls with a scrapbook containing their notes and artwork.

Now, when the 8-year-olds return to school and are asked the inevitable question,What did you do on your summer vacation, they can tell teachers and fellow students how they used creativity and curiosity to bring a neighborhood closer together.

“It was nice and fun to do, Katy said.Well probably do it again next year.

Katy is the daughter of Rhonda and Chad Dunkley. Kaylie is the daughter of Megan and Gary Trentman.

Kay Breece shows a couple of pages of a scrapbook containing the notes she received from Katy and Kaylie. Among the items is afriendship pass the girls made for Kay.

Kaylie Trentman (left) and Katy Dunkley pose for photographer Bonnie Pugliese. The pair have known each other since they were 1.


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