A quartet of clubs brings hope, fun and comfort to kids.
(This is the first in a series of articles focusing on Key Clubs that received HALO Movement grants over the summer.)
By Danielle Castonzo
Key Club International and Nickelodeon’s HALO Movement again have partnered to offer grants to help Key Clubs carry out service projects. In the latest round of 10 winners, four clubs received grants for projects that address health-related issues.
Based in New Jersey, the Millburn High School Key Club received a grant to support the Millburn Color Run. Every year, members donate race funds to a different community charity. For the next run, they will fundraise for the Children’s Miracle Network and the American Cancer Society.
“This project is important to the community because it brings people together for an important cause,” Millburn Key Club President Ranen Miao says. “Every year, we try to focus on our community when we think of the charities to donate to. Giving back is so important, and the Color Run is a very impactful way of doing just that.”
The 5K race is held every spring. At the race’s beginning, participants receive a T-shirt and colored powder to throw during the event; at the finish line, they celebrate with pizza and prizes.
Last year, the Millburn Color Run raised US$2,000 for the Thirst Project and New Jersey Federation of Food Banks, as well as $2,000 for a family battling childhood lymphoma.
In Wisconsin, the Waupun Area Key Club received a HALO grant to support the Giving Tree project.
When families face large medical bills, it can be tough to purchase holiday presents for hospitalized children. Club members formed the Giving Tree to purchase items on the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s wish list, including toys, books, art supplies and clothes. Those items are then gifted to the hospital’s young patients. The club also hosts Miracle Moments to raise money to purchase more items and gas gift cards.
Brelynn Bille, Key Club president and chair of the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District’s Projects Committee, says the Giving Tree brings together students, families and businesses to support the Children’s Hospital.
“Because of our small town we live in, we have kids from our school, myself included, and in the community that have or have had their own battles to fight at this hospital,” Bille says. “Our community knows just how much these gifts can brighten a child’s day, especially around the holidays. Our club is motivated by the idea that if we can make the holiday season easier on just one family, then we have done our job.”
In the neighboring state of Illinois, the Wheaton North High School Key Club will use HALO grant funds to support the Accessible Tree House Project. Soon, it will add a wheelchair-accessible treehouse to the Sensory Garden Playground. This free, regional park serves children with disabilities, with special attention toward those on the autism spectrum.
“This project provides access to recreation for those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities and allows them to play side by side in a safe and welcoming environment,” Grace Tulley, former Key Club member, wrote in the HALO application.
The treehouse was designed using input from a series of focus groups with parents and inclusion experts. It will include ADA-accessible boardwalks that elevate 11 feet to the tree house.
Another midwestern club, Tecumseh High School Key Club in Michigan, received a HALO grant for an event to raise awareness of a rare syndrome involving infant airway defects.
The club decided to host such an event after meeting a young boy in their community who suffers from three types of those defects. A country-themed evening will include line dancing and food from local vendors.
Money raised will go toward Coping with Laryngomalacia, an organization that provides support for families dealing with infant airway defects such as laryngomalacia, tracheomalacia, and bronchomalacia.
“Being a small service club, we don’t have the money to fund a large community project like this, and so receiving this grant means everything to our project and event,” Lydia Lopez, who has served two terms as Key Club president, says. “The impact that the HALO grant has on our project is truly astronomical, making us extremely grateful and excited to put on an event that will forever hold a spot in many community members’ hearts.”