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September 2012 magazine

SPICE IT UP

In a rut? Shake things up with these twists on some typical service projects and fundraisers.

story by Gianna Stefanelli

Although every Key Club has its own annual projects and community service traditions, right now is the best time of year to plan ahead and think outside of the box. To start the year off strong, don’t settle for the average service staples. 

Be bold. Be daring. 

Dive right into thousands of fun and charitable partnerships, events and missions. With a little brainstorming and some manpower, anything is possible. Here are some examples of inventive but doable projects your Key Club peers use. 

Let the games begin. Organize a school sports competition or Olympics-style tournament among grade levels. Miami Beach High School Key Club member Jessica Shevlin successfully created a dodgeball tournament to raise money for The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. “Dodge a ball; save a life” attracted more than 50 participants and raised more than US$1,000 in one day. Not only is a sporting event or tournament fun and relatively easy to plan, but it also gets other school organizations involved. Set up an information table at the event to advertise your club and its upcoming events. 

Give back through music. Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School Key Club member Ariel Brown’s favorite way to raise funds for a cause is to play music before and after classes. “You can either let students vote on a song or make a request for a dollar,” she says. “While it involves the entire school, it still allows students to voice their own opinions on music.” 

Fight hunger—and apathy. Cook up something new. Working at a soup kitchen is a community-service standard, but many Key Clubs have also found innovative ways to feed the hungry. Sarah Thomas, member of the Steinhart High School Key Club, hosted a “PB&Jathon” at her school. 

“It was a really quick project to plan,” she says. “Any Key Club can do this. All you need is enough peanut butter, jelly, bread, plastic bags and people to make hundreds of sandwiches.” You can also find ways to donate to an organization that focuses on ending hunger and poverty, such as the Hunger Project. To get involved, start an event, volunteer your club’s time and simply spread the word. 

Play for canned food. Many schools plan an annual canned food drive. This year, add a new twist with a canned food scavenger hunt. Christopher Van, member of the Fullerton Union High School Key Club, helped members divide into two teams. Each team raced through their neighborhoods with large plastic bags and a long list of canned foods. They asked residents to donate items from their houses. 

“Within two hours, what was a fun and competitive game for us resulted in hundreds of canned-food donations,” Van says. 

Get outdoorsy. For Zachariah DeGiulio of the Voorhees High School Key Club, a favorite—and innovative— community service project is “America’s Grow- A-Row.” Club members grow and donate fresh produce to underprivileged residents of urban areas. By the end of the project, DeGiulio had helped harvest 18,000 servings of food. 

“It’s extremely rewarding to spend an hour at a farm harvesting squash and other vegetables,” he says. DeGiulio’s project is different, educational and great for Key Club members who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. 

Change your scenery. If you can’t host an event at your high school, think about renting out a room at a business, hotel or conference center.


Party with the elderly. Key Club member Doug Ream admires how his school, Lakenheath High School, helps the elderly by hosting a “senior prom” for area retirement communities. To do this at your school, rally your club members and divide up the responsibilities. Each member or small group of members should be in charge of a task, such as providing refreshments, making personal invitations for the residents or creating a prom playlist. 

“We get about 50 residents together and play music that ranges from the ’50s to popular music today,” Ream says. “It’s so much fun to dance with the residents. And surprisingly, they’ve taught us so many new dance moves.” 

Provide comfort when it’s cold. Columbus North High School Key Clubber Celina Hafner suggests providing the area’s homeless with something to sleep on. While living in Illinois, she and her classmates crocheted plastic bags together to create beds for the homeless. 

Crocheting the mats is fairly easy, but make sure you leave time to do it: Each mat is usually made from 400 to 700 bags, so one can take hours to make. 

Haunt the halls. For Halloween, Illinois-Eastern Iowa District Key Club member Morgan Murphy transforms University High School into a haunted house. “This is our biggest project of the year, and we all have a lot of fun planning it,” she says. 

Parsippany High School Key Clubber Christina Hum’s club does a similar project. “Halloween at the High” focuses on providing a safe yet fun place for the children in their community to trick-or- treat. For the older kids, the club transforms a classroom into a scary insane-asylum maze. “The project is mostly for the community—entertaining children as well as adults,” Hum says. “This year our hallways were literally filled.” 

Include the entire community. If you can’t host the event at your high school, think about renting out a room at a business, hotel or conference center. Marine Academy of Science and Technology Key Club member Nicole Ventrone’s club participates in “Trick-or-Suite,” where club members rent out a room or two of a nearby hotel with the help of different clubs, businesses and organizations. Members decorate the room for children with disabilities to visit. 

“Because the children are unable to trick-or-treat outside and from door-to-door, we give them the opportunity to collect candy in a clean, safe, indoor setting,” Ventrone says. “It’s always so much fun.” 

Paint a new picture. Volunteer your time to a community day care center. After all, day care centers often need help entertaining the kids, and the only thing your club members need to plan is the activity you will do. Ventrone runs a program with her club called “Art from the Heart,” where high school students conduct simple art projects with the children. 

“We constantly need to think up new projects that will be fun for both the teenagers and the kids,” Ventrone says. “It’s fun to figure out how we can decorate ties for Father’s Day or make turkey handprints for Thanksgiving.” 

“It’s fun to put on our creative-thinking caps and decorate ties for Father’s Day or make turkey handprints for Thanksgiving.”


Plan at least one season ahead. Tara Reed, along with her fellow Nutley High School Key Club officers Nina Nieves and Patrick Koslecki, are planning a “Winter Wonderland Ball” to raise money for The Eliminate Project. “Winter might be a season away, but I’m really excited for this dance,” Reed says. “It’s going to be our first year planning something like this, and we are totally up for the challenge. It may even become an annual Key Club event.”    KC