Key Club collects 21,000 canned goods for area's needy
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Key Club sponsor Leah Blackwood stood in amazement last Thursday as students streamed in and out of Hartselle High School's audio/visual room carrying more than 21,000 donated food items.
"I just cannot believe they did this well," Blackwood admitted. "They always surprise me."
All 172 members of the HHS Key Club worked hard for two weeks to promote competition among fellow classmates, Blackwood explained, to raise the non-perishable food donations for Faith House, a Good Samaritan Ministry of Hartselle's First United Methodist Church.
Robin Hodges' AP Biology class raised the most donations with 5,274 items. The class will receive a Hardee's breakfast with doughnuts from the Key Club, and their teacher will receive a gift certificate to Applebee's, movie passes and babysitting services for one night.
"The kids love the competition," Blackwood said. "I think that's what makes the project such a success."
The Key Club Can-a-thon is an annual event that raised over 10,000 items for donation last year. The goal this year was 11,000 items, but Blackwood said she knew the total had far exceeded their goal days before the project ended. The final total exceeded 21,800 items.
"Senior Carson Land took a letter about our project and went grocery store to grocery store asking for donations," Blackwood recalled. "And one of our substitute teachers took $100 of her own money and bought 13 pre-packaged food donation boxes from Kroger. I'm simply amazed by how hard everyone worked."
Faith House volunteer and FUMC Youth Minister Corey Stewart said the ministry has never received a donation this large.
"Faith House receives most of its donations from Hartselle High School's Key Club," Stewart explained. "This food will be used Saturday, Dec. 11 to give to needy area families for the holidays, but Faith House gives food to those in need year-round. This should keep us well-stocked for quite some time."
Faith House volunteer and FUMC member Charles Smith agreed with Stewart as he helped students load six truckloads of food donations.
"This is just amazing," Smith said. "This food will go a long way and feed a lot of people. We're just so appreciative."
Smith and Stewart said they were surprised by the amount of food donated, but not by the generosity of Blackwood, the Key Club and Hartselle High School students.
"These kids all have a good heart and they want to do good things," Stewart said. "But I'm also amazed by Mrs. Blackwood. She is the largest force behind this project and always rallies the kids together in a big way."
FUMC member Joy Groover, who works with the Good Samaritan Ministry and Faith House, said the food will be used to feed 75-80 families for Christmas, as well as throughout the coming year.
"I just can't believe a group of people could do this much good," Groover said with wonder and amazement as she stood among the donations. "I've never seen this much food in my life."
Groover said the food donation came at the best time possible since the shelves of the food pantry were nearly bare with only a few cans of English peas, green beans and corn left.
"Now we have such a variety of food," Groover explained. "If everybody worked as hard as these kids worked, a lot of people in this world wouldn't be hungry. Leah Blackwood is a go-getter. She and the Key Club have really outdone themselves this year."