Huntington High School’s Key Club chapter is one of the oldest on Long Island and it has always been among the best, too. That same tradition continues today.
Key Club members have never been afraid to roll up their sleeves and work. This year’s Huntington chapter is pursuing several important projects. December will be an especially busy month.
The club kicked off its hectic holiday season with a new “Warm Hands, Warm Hearts” drive that has seen hundreds of hats, gloves and socks collected for eventual distribution to local needy families through the Family Service League.
Huntington High School students, teachers and support staff members have been particularly generous with their donations of items to the drive. Once the campaign ends on Thursday, November 30, the Key Club’s holiday toy drive will commence. It, too, benefits the Family Service League’s efforts to help financially struggling families provide gifts to their children. Hundreds of toys, books, puzzles and similar items are expected to be donated.
“Key Club is the oldest and largest service program for high school students in the world,” according to the national organization’s website. “It has more than 270,000 members in over 5,000 clubs in 38 countries.” Key Club is a branch of Kiwanis International.
Huntington’s Key Club chapter boasts more than 170 members this year. They attend weekly Thursday meetings in the School Heritage Museum. English teachers Kelly Krycinski and Gina Collica are the group’s energetic faculty advisors.
The Key Club has traditionally brought financially needy children on a holiday shopping tour through Sears in East Northport, but since the store recently closed, this year’s event will be held at Target. Club members accompany the kids on the tour as they go about selecting various items, including warm clothes to get them through the cold winter. The clothes and toys will all get wrapped by the teenagers so the youngsters have gifts to open up.
“December is one of our busiest months because of the amount of events we do,” Key Club President Erica Vazquez said. “Whether it’s Make-A-Wish, Target Tour or even the ‘Warm Hands, Warm Hearts’ drive, seeing the look on people’s faces after doing the things we do is priceless. I have never been so grateful to be part of a club that does this much work for children in need, especially in our local community.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s holiday card sale is sure to be big hit around the high school. For the sixth consecutive year, Huntington students have designed holiday cards for sale to parents, teachers, friends and family members. Huntington’s beloved Eli Mollineaux even designed cards in past years.
“All proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County, where we help a child with a terminal illness have their life long wish come true,” Ms. Vazquez said. “In total, we have raised over $5,000, but last year we collected $2,000, which is the most we have ever raised in one year. We hope to beat that and raise even more money this year for the children.”
The Key Club’s goal throughout the holidays is to help children in need, especially local kids and make a difference in their lives. It’s this goal that motivates the group’s members daily.
“December is my favorite time of year, because Key Club takes the spirit of the holidays and uses it to give back to our community,” said Maggie Giles, the organization’s vice president. “Everything we do, from the toy drive to Make-A-Wish, is for local kids. It reminds us all to be thankful for what we have and to understand the impact of our service.”
Most of the club’s members have been participating in the organization’s activities since they entered the high school as ninth graders. The teenagers are particularly passionate about the work they are doing. “Being a part of Key Club for four years has definitely warmed my heart for children during the holiday season,” said Megan Erhardt, the club’s secretary.
The organization always finds a way to accomplish what it sets out to do. “This is one of our busiest times of the year and it’s been great to see the growth of each of these service projects,” said Gaia D’Anna, the Key Club’s treasurer.
Helping others and volunteering their time comes naturally to the group’s members. “Service is a theme displayed throughout numerous clubs in our school,” said Sam Sgrizzi, the Key Club’s publicist. “Yet, the importance of providing not only national support, but local support as well cannot be stressed enough.”
The Huntington Key Club has a long history of enthusiastically working to improve their lives of others in the community. Looking ahead to the late winter, the group will once again be sponsoring the popular K-Factor talent show in the high school auditorium on Friday, March 2 with proceeds earmarked for the Relay For Life, which supports the American Cancer Society.
“Mrs. Colica and I are constantly amazed at our Key Club officers and members,” Mrs. Krycinski said. “Our December initiatives truly showcase their desire to make our community and world a better place. Despite all of the distractions the holiday season brings, the Key Club never loses sight of what truly matters; helping those in need.”