On a cold December day, the members of Huntington High School’s Key Club chapter gathered inside the Target store on Jericho Turnpike, determined to bring happiness to a special group of children.
About 50 Huntington Key Club members joined their counterparts from Half Hollow Hills West, and Harborfields, a local youth development organization to help dozens of fortunate kids shop for winter clothes at Target. Huntington Kiwanis supported the initiative financially. The Family Service League coordinated the participation of the children.
“This year’s Target Tour was by far my favorite,” Key Club President Molly Kessler said. “It’s always nice to give back and it’s even nicer when you’re having fun!”
The event helps financially struggling local families acquire winter clothes and presents for the holidays for their children. For many years it was held at the Sears in East Northport, but after that store closed the initiative moved to Target.
Following the shopping tour, the group headed to West Hollow Middle School to the wrap the gifts, play games together, sing carols and generally enjoy a great time. Santa Claus even came calling for a visit.
Huntington’s Key Club membership totals about150 this year. They attend weekly meetings on Thursday afternoon in the School Heritage Museum. English teachers Kelly Krycinski and Gina Colica are the group’s longtime faculty advisors.
The organization’s executive board consists of President Molly Kessler, Vice President Nick Rowley, Secretary Diya Rai-Gersappe, Treasurer Hannah Avidor, publicists Julia Giles and Josie Fasolino, attendance officer Alexa Rind and administrative assistants Aidan Heller, Alex Gonzales, Alexis Kaloudis, Cassidy Casabona, Charlotte Cheshire, Emily Cheshire, Julia Rogel, Kate Sheran, Morgan Colleluori, Rebecca Hoffmann, Sabeena Ali, Sarah Berry, Livia D’Anna and Sophia Toscano.
Huntington senior Julia Segal is also an integral member of the organization, serving as lieutenant governor of Division 3 of Key Club and chair of the membership committee for the New York district of the organization.
When the busload of children pulled up to Target, the Huntington High School Key Club members were ready. “Two-by-two, we high schoolers got into pairs to help one of these kids pick out winter clothes like coats, hats, boots and gloves so they can stay warm for the rest of winter,” Ms. Giles said. “Some kids were loud, others were shy, and some of them didn’t even understand us, but we all tried our best to make sure they had fun. They deserved it.”
The Key Club members were emotionally moved by the day’s events. “It was a very worthwhile and fulfilling experience helping kids in our community,” Mr. Rowley said.
“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.
“The Target tour has always been one of my favorite parts of Key Club and it’s always so rewarding to give back to the community during the holiday season,” Ms. Giles said. “If you want to participate next year, you can help out the Key Club by attending meetings and participating in community service opportunities with us! That way, you can end up on the list of kids who are eligible to join. We would love to have you for this and I hope that lots more kids participate in this amazing opportunity after this year’s seniors graduate.”