LEWISTOWN - Caring - Our way of life. That's the Key Club motto.
Key Club International is the high school derivative of Kiwanis International and functions in many of the same ways. The organization holds charters in 32 countries around the globe, represents over 5,000 clubs worldwide and connects more than 260,000 students from every corner of the earth who say, "I don't want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution."
Of that 260,000, 132 attend Mifflin County High School.
Special Olympics creates memorable day for everyone
By FINNIAN SAYLOR, MCHS Key Club President
Bang! The pop gun sounds, Special Olympic Athletes run down the track, the stands cheer.
Each year, there is one day that every Key Club member circles in red pen on his calendar: The Special Olympics. We get to see our peers compete in competitions, laugh and smile with the most genuine of smiles. The athletes walk with pride as ribbons hang about their necks, glistening with gold letters that boast, "first place."
During the event, each Key Club member is paired with an athlete. This past year, my partner and I were selected to run the American Flag down the track as part of the opening ceremony at the event. The flag whipped, and the athletes cheered with zealous enthusiasm. There was excitement all around that unified everyone present. There was joy that radiated amongst the club, a joy sourced by the athletes; it came not only from them, but from our help to them.
The Special Olympics has been part of Key Club's agenda for many years, and last year the club had an even bigger role. The day before the Olympics, officers of the club escorted athletes down to the track of our high school in order to help train them for the upcoming events. We tossed balls, ran races, but more importantly we did it together. The fun we had, the memories we made, the smiles we'll never forget were invaluable. This club has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with those athletes, and them with me. When I walk the halls of the school, I still stop to chat with the students with whom I played that afternoon; there's a connection there that previously would have never existed-never existed before Key Club.
There was a photo taken of my friend and I running down the track holding the flag during the opening ceremony that afternoon. It still hangs on my fridge.
Community service at its peak during holiday season
By MEGAN INGRAM, MCHS Key Club Vice President
I could not wait to make my Christmas list when I was a child. A great amount of time, thought and consideration went into compiling the lineup of toys I wanted Santa to bring me on Christmas Eve.
Now that I'm older, I still make a list - but it's nothing like the ones I used to make. My high school Christmas list is composed of all the Key Club activities I participate in to spread the holiday spirit throughout our community.
The Key Club's Christmas season always begins on the first weekend of December with the Lewistown Christmas parade. Our planning for the float actually begins a couple weeks prior to the big night, for we have a very important responsibility: carrying Santa Claus.
The next morning, my alarm wakes me before 5:00 a.m. Many teenagers wouldn't want to wake up this early on a Saturday, but I don't care; I get to help our parent organization, Kiwanis, serve their annual Pancake Festival.
Throughout the duration of the Christmas season, Key Club plays a critical role in Santa's Bookbag. It is amazing to watch as people from all over the community tote in thousands of like-new books for children. Each child in the program records his or her reading interests, and we search through piles of donated books until every child receives the books he or she wants to read.
This year, the MCHS Key Club helped Santa's Bookbag provide bags of books to more than 600 children in our community.
Key Club wraps up the holiday season with what has grown to be my favorite activity: The Community Christmas Project, formerly known as the Giving Tree. Every year, hundreds of people pluck a paper angel containing a child and his or her Christmas list from one of the many Giving Trees throughout our community. Then, they take on the persona of Santa, buying presents for children who otherwise would have nothing to open on Christmas morning.
After all Santas of the community have donated their gifts, we take on the roles of the elves. Key Club volunteers spend many hours wrapping and sorting through gifts, and all of our work leads up to the grand finale of this community project. The week before Christmas, Key Club members leave school for a day to help distribute the gifts to families in our community.
When I place a donated gift into the hands of parents as gracious smiles shine on their faces, I feel a peaceful warmth fill my heart.
This past Christmas season, I received every item on my Christmas list. My involvement in the MCHS Key Club has given me so many things: opportunities to make a difference, experiences of unspeakable fulfillment when I directly see my impact within my town and a thousand memories that I will never forget.
Club teaches 'you can never help too many people'
By ALLISON SHEETZ, MCHS Key Club Secretary
I was first exposed to Key Club as a freshman at Lewistown Area High School. I wasn't quite sure what it was but my best friend said we should join, so we did. Every year since then, I have become more involved with the activities. I ran for an office for my senior year.
One thing Key Club has taught me is that you can never help too many people. We have participated in so many projects I probably couldn't name them all. Among our annual outreach projects are the Giving Tree, Kid Connection and the Special Olympics. We also participate in dinners held at First United Methodist Church - those are my personal favorite.
Key Club is very easy to join, even if you're not sure what it is and whether you'd be interested or not. Watching smiles come to the faces you are helping just proves how a small gesture can go a long way.
Membership lends helping hands throughout town
By MICHAELA WAGNER, MCHS Key Club Administrative Assistant
The doors swing open on the first day; the bell buzzes to sharply push your fears into the black hole of the crowded halls. It can be uncomfortable. Luckily, your school has a Key Club that is welcoming new members. You sign up; you soon find it to be one of the best decisions you could've made on those first few days of dreaded high school.
Key Club is a high school haven. It is a functional family that works together to better the days of anyone they possibly can. I find that doing the same thing over and over again can really deter someone from being actively involved with an organization. Key Club members are a variety of things. They are the smiling faces serving pancakes after the Christmas parade. They are the shuffling group serving melted cookies to toddlers at Kid Connection. They are the hands on the best candy at the Halloween parade. They are the helpers and craziest fans of all the Special Olympic Athletes.
Before Key Club, I did not have any means to connect with the community. It was difficult to reach out. Key Club is the outlet by which all the kids with kind hearts and a little free time can make themselves available.
The effort put forth to keep the Key Club motor running is enjoyable: hardly work at all! If you can wear a smile while you share a smile, you are right for Key Club.