Key Club service aids community

Kingston High School Key Club members are a treasured part of the Greater Kingston Kiwanis family. Key Club members are present at virtually every service project Kiwanis sponsors, including food drives, Salmon Slam fundraiser, the Halloween Carnival and Santa’s Workshop. Though small, the thirty members of the Kingston High Key Club have made a big difference in the community and their school.

The Kingston High Key Club is part of the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world. There are over 270,000 Key Club members in 38 countries striving to make the world better through service. The local club is no exception. According to current president Emily Ramirez, the Kingston Club has a track record of service. This year they collected toys for the ShareNet Christmas toy drive. Internationally they have contributed to the UNICEF Project Eliminate (for maternal neonatal tetanus) and are collaborating with the North Kitsap High School Key Club in a candy drive to raise funds for the Thirst Project, which will help provide clean water in Swaziland. This is in addition to their volunteering with Kiwanis.

Emily commented that the club also carries out fun projects that end up being very gratifying experiences. Her favorite was when the Key Club made friendship bracelets for students in Liberia. Seeing pictures of their bracelets on the wrists of students halfway around the globe was very moving to members here and symbolic of the bounds their service projects were creating.

Internationally, Key Clubs have raised over $1.2 million for treating iodine deficiency disorder, $1.3 million to combat HIV/Aids in Swaziland, and $2 million towards the eradication of maternal neonatal tetanus. Most of the fundraising efforts came from Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaigns, but also from local fundraisers. The Kingston Key Club sells wreaths every Christmas, using the proceeds solely to fund these international projects and club selected projects such as the Embrace Liberia Christian Academy School in Africa, where their funds are used for school supplies.

One of the benefits of Key Club membership is that because all the projects and the club itself are student-led, members, particularly the officers, gain a great deal of leadership experience. In addition to President Emily Ramirez, the other officers are

Clara Kehoe, vice president; Iona Larson, secretary; and Olivia Call, treasurer. All the current officers are juniors and engaged in a variety of other extra-curricular activities from soccer to tennis, debate to band. According to Ramirez, “being part of Key Club has allowed me to recognize, and cope with, real-world social problems that are not as prevalent within the school community. Within the club, every member is given the opportunity to voice their opinion or share their experiences while volunteering. In this way, our Key Club has been able to foster a sense of community, family and leadership for every member.”

Another benefit, according to research, is that students who devote more time to service than others perform better in school. As busy as these Key Club students are, they also do well academically. Kiwanis members see this annually when they receive applications for scholarship assistance for post-high school learning. While service is the primary criteria for awarding Kiwanis scholarships, often the recipients are also outstanding students with career goals that demonstrate a continued commitment to service in the community and world-at-large.