Kiwanis, Southampton students partner in community service

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

COURTLAND—More Southampton students became involved in community service during the school year that just ended.

Both the KEY Club at Southampton High School and the Builders Club at Southampton Middle School share a mission to provide service, character building and leadership developing opportunities. Franklin Kiwanis members Nancy and Reese McCormick of Courtland serve as liaisons between the schools and Kiwanis, which sponsors the two clubs.

Shellie McHenry, adviser for the KEY (Kiwanis Educating Youth) Club, said, &uot;We have 77 members who have collectively put in 1,575 hours of volunteer work this year.&uot;

The Builders Club a little more than doubled its roll since last year, moving from 12 members to 25 this year, according to Billy Jenkins, who co-advises the club with Susan Gunn.

&uot;They are very limited (as far as where volunteer hours come from),&uot; said McHenry. &uot;They can only claim 10 hours from outside of the club, although many more hours are donated through work with the Scouts or church. So many of the students have really done even more.&uot;

She said the members average 20 hours each month, and sometimes 40. A minimum of 25 hours of community service is required each semester to remain active in the club. She estimated that about $3,000 total was donated from the club to charities throughout the school year.

&uot;When I got here (four years ago), the kids were in it to get credit for what they had done. Now they have lots of big ideas.&uot;

Although the club is open to everyone, those interested in joining have to fill out an application, write an essay and go through an interview process conducted by the officers of the club.

&uot;It is a huge commitment,&uot; said McHenry.

The Builders Club members are a little at a disadvantage because the middle school students aren’t driving yet, so most of their activities are staged at the school after hours.

&uot;They do community service at the school, like picking up trash inside the building,&uot; said Jenkins.

&uot;They have the same goals as the KEY Club as far as building character, willingness to give back to the community and trustworthiness.

&uot;They have to maintain a high standard and discipline has to be perfect.&uot;&uot;

The club, in its second year after a lull because of lack of an adviser, has already expanded this year to include not only sixth- and seventh-graders, but eighth as well.

He added that the group tries to meet once a month and that the school administration works well around their schedule.

Jenkins estimated the youth have put in at least 500 hours this year.

The organizations have one international project each year in which they participate. This year’s fund-raising event was collecting change for UNICEF, which helped children in Africa. The Builders raised $500 for the cause, and KEY Club brought in $1,400.

The KEY Club performed a variety of community service projects this year from hosting events for the elementary schools and painting pumpkins for nursing homes, to hosting bingo at The Village at Woods Edge and raking yards for the elderly. The students collected 69 pints of blood in fall and 106 in spring during its blood drives.

The Builders sold Southampton Middle School T-shirts and participated in canned food drives for the food bank in Boykins, collecting more than 100 cans during the two drives. They also raised $400 for the March of Dimes.

&uot;My hope is that the fulfillment they get from helping the community will open their eyes to all the ways they can contribute to the community,&uot; said McHenry.