Community service

Clayton Youth Council launches community service initiative

Group photo from the Clayton Youth Council litter cleanup event. Contributing photo.

CLAYTON – Members of the Clayton Youth Council of Johnston County High Schools have pledged to volunteer 1,000 hours by the end of the 2022-23 school year as part of their community service initiative, “The Art of Coming Together”.

Clayton Youth Council (CYC) is a local voluntary organization that operates as an arm of the State Youth Council program of the North Carolina Department of Administration. CYC is led by Johnston County high school students who seek opportunities to improve the area they live in, address issues facing youth, and find innovative solutions. CYC works closely with Clayton Town Government, City Council and the Parks and Recreation Department. This year, the slogan and theme of CYC’s unique initiative is “The Art of Coming Together”.

“Since 2019, the CYC has come together to collect 1,458 hours of community service. This year they have set a new goal of reaching 1,000 hours of community service by the end of the school year in May,” said CYC Counselor Joni Hubble-Zeneberg.

In 2021, the North Carolina State Youth Council awarded CYC the “Most Creative and Innovative Council Project” for its First Responder Appreciation Baskets that were donated to local police departments , fire departments and emergency management services personnel.

Clayton Youth Council Games Night. Contributing photo.

CYC’s philanthropy is inspired by four key words: inclusion, impact, service and community.

This year, the 77 council members collected school supplies to donate to local schools and joined in the National Cleanup Day efforts with a trash pickup. They also plan to work together to create and deliver Veterans Day cards, volunteer at the Parks and Recreation Special Needs Halloween Boo Bash Dance Party, collect food for a food drive for Thanksgiving and serve many other community groups as volunteers.

“I joined CYC to give back to the community. Before I became a member of CYC, I had a lot of free time that I spent watching TV, working out or sleeping. Now I can devote my time to something more meaningful and productive,” said CYC member Caleb Lanier. “My favorite memory with CYC is helping the kids participate in the Town of Clayton Easter Egg Hunt last year. It felt good to see the happy smiles of young children after receiving a basket full of eggs.

Besides community service, the main reasons teens return to CYC are fun social activities, friendships, new experiences, and opportunities to learn job skills.

CYC members pictured with CYC Councilor Joni Hubble-Zeneberg. Contributing photo.

“CYC members are busy volunteering, but they also spend a lot of time fulfilling board responsibilities, editing resumes, practicing interview skills, visiting colleges and learning about career paths,” Hubble-Zeneberg said.

Potentially, CYC members can be selected to attend State Youth Council leadership conferences and conventions and apply for mini-grant programs. These events and programs allow Johnston County teens to share their ideas with other youth across the state.

The Clayton Youth Council was established in 1995. Meetings are held on the first Monday of each month during the school year and members are required to commit to 10 hours of community service per week.

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