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Key Club reaches out to the community

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
More than 150 high school students worked hard to make sure many of their less fortunate neighbors had a happy holiday season.
The Hartselle High School Key Club, sponsored by teacher Leah Blackwood, has had a busy fall/winter semester in preparation for its annual holiday community service efforts.
The year began with members serving pancakes and busing tables at the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. At Hartselle's Depot Days, members worked at the Fun Run and various booths, in addition to assisting in cleanup efforts downtown.
"The students work hard at both events," Blackwood said. "I'm always very proud of them and amazed by their commitment to the community."
For accumulating community service hours at such events, the Kiwanis donate funds to the Key Club for the organization to help others with food, clothing, toys, and other basic needs.
This year, the Key Club used the funds, along with club member donations, to make 100 Thanksgiving baskets for Volunteers of America, 52 of which were delivered by students to needy families in Hartselle.
"It really opened their eyes," Blackwood said. "They kids walked away with a new awareness about their community."
According to Blackwood, the Key Club has been a bevy of elfin activity the past few weeks as members prepared more than 300 Holiday Hope Chest boxes, all tagged for Hartselle residents, donated over 200 toys to Toys for Tots, and donated more than 300 bears to the Morgan County Department of Human Resources for is Fuzzy Wuzzy Bears campaign.
"The bears are given to children who have been in a car accident, fire, or in cases where the child is being removed from their home," Blackwood said. "The bear is a source of comfort and security."
However, the biggest community service project of the season for the Key Club has most certainly been the annual Cannathon. Distributed evenly between The Caring Place and Faith Home, members collected and donated 10, 028 cans of food and non-perishable food items.
"Our goal last year was 6,000 cans, which we met" Blackwood recalled. "This year, we didn't set a goal and got more than 10,000 cans. The Faith Home had to build more shelves to hold all of the 5,000 cans we brought them."
The Key Club has also donated socks, blow dryers, curling irons and school supplies to Faith Home, in addition to adopting a family with seven children for Christmas.
"We spent $100 per child and took 22 students shopping at Wal-Mart with a wish list and a budget," Blackwood said. "We also made baskets for the adults with towels and food gift certificates. The students have really worked hard to make sure this family has a wonderful Christmas."
Additionally, the Key Club has donated school supplies to The Caring Place and Hartselle Head Start, sponsored a book drive for Hartselle elementary schools, donated time and services at many school events across Hartselle, and is preparing for its Morgan County DHR Diaper Drive next spring.
"We have a great group of young people here at Hartselle High School who want to help their neighbors and their community," Blackwood said. "Last year, we had 102 members. This year, we have 153. We're growing, and I am so proud of each and everyone of them."