Community service

Happy Valley Key Club discovers community service with $2,000 grant | News

ELIZABETHTON — One of the goals of service clubs like the Kiwanis Club is to pass on the tradition of community service to the next generation. This goal seems to work with the Youth Opportunity Fund grant program and the Key Club of Happy Valley High School.

The Happy Valley Key Club is sponsored by the Elizabethton Kiwanis Club. Teachers Megan Hall and John Miles serve as club advisors and senior student Zach Stephens serves as club president. The club recently distinguished itself by receiving a full grant of $2,000 from the Kiwanis club for its Warrior Closet project. Hall said it was an honor for the club. She said the maximum amount the grant would award is $2,000. “There were 52 grants awarded this year and only seven of those grants were for a total of $2,000,” Hall said.

What will the $2,000 be used for? The Happy Valley Key Club explained its concept in the grant application: “This project involves having a room filled with necessities such as clothing, shoes and toiletries dedicated to serving the students of the Happy Valley community. We want this room to be accessible at all times during school hours so that it can fit into any student’s schedule and that students don’t feel embarrassed to need aid. We will start by offering this type of room at Happy Valley High School. However, we would like to eventually (maybe next year?) expand the service to both middle school (Happy Valley) and elementary school (Happy Valley).

The students explained that the closet would meet a need in the community because many low-income families lived there. “Just over half of students enrolled at Happy Valley High School are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch. We see students everyday who don’t have warm winter clothes, proper footwear, or other necessities like toothpaste and soap. Our hope is to make this school a safe place for them by providing an easy and convenient way to meet their basic needs.

To supplement the funds awarded by the scholarship, the students also partnered with individuals to help supply and purchase items stored in the closet. “We got help from students and we partner with churches and universities,” Stephens said.

The closet already proves its need. The clothes and other items have already been taken and the students are preparing to add more to the stock. Hall said only new clothes or lightly used items are stored. Clothing is contemporary and stylish, with lots of fun tees. There is a range of sizes, which will likely improve with a few additions to stock. There are also shoes, coats, and other items, as well as pots of toiletries.

The closet door stays open for most of the school day and no one has to ask permission to go get what they need. Students with special hours or other circumstances can make anonymous arrangements for the closet to be open at another time convenient to them when the schedule does not work.