Category: Community Service

Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Community Service Updates

Originally published on The Magnet by Derrick Cruz

MacDuffie’s student-led community service organization, The Key Club, recently experienced a change in leadership with ELL teacher Dana Katz accepting the role as its advisor. Katz has expanded Key Club’s curriculum to include frequent food bank and rehabilitation center visits as well as some visits to soup kitchens. Among these was Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

In November, Neighbors Helping Neighbors took place. It was presented to the entire student body as an opportunity to serve at a local food bank in South Hadley. Students prepared and served meals to the homeless population in South Hadley. Katz was pleased to see many students participate.

“There’s always way more students than I can accommodate, and that is always a good problem to have,” said Katz.

Katz also shared some of the more recent opportunities for community service. Katz mentioned VERO, a rehabilitation center that has allowed students to help out seniors during craft hours. Some work that Key Club members are doing or have already done includes Senior Madeline LaChance’s Toy Drive, The Winter Coat Drive and Socktober. As the year goes on, Katz urges students and parents to reach out to the Key Club if they have any ideas.

As a club, Key Club has increased its membership and the amount of community service opportunities they have been offering. Katz reflects on how 11 students participated in the River Clean Up and in Neighbors Helping Neighbors there were even more.

Katz hopes that the entire MacDuffie community is affected by these opportunities. She hopes that all of them go out and open community service opportunities of their own, whether it be in our school community or whatever is closest to home.

This year, Katz has taken her particular role seriously. She also shared that her intentions and future plans for the Key Club would be to establish two monthly activities which she hopes will have longevity within the MacDuffie community. When she reflects on what she called “a growth edge,” or a particular area where she sees Key Club going or improving upon, she claims Key Club could provide “a connection for Boarders to do work in their own home as they experience community service in America.”

Key Club is an organization where students can individually pursue leadership. At MacDuffie, students are encouraged to participate in the activities that the club provides access to.  Students and the beneficiaries of these services both stand to benefit.

Key Club Volunteers at Neuva Esperanza

Our Key Club, under the guidance of Mrs. Caballero, has been very busy since the start of the school year in the aftermath of hurricane devastation in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

The most recent efforts have focused on donations to Puerto Rico. Together with Nueva Esperanza of Holyoke, the Key Club has coordinated post-Maria food and clothing donations. Mrs. Caballero and four Key Club students recently volunteered at the receiving center. “The students worked really hard and they felt very empowered by the experience,” she said. “I was very proud of them. The Executive Director was also very impressed by their hard work and appreciated a lot the fact that the students wanted to contribute some of their early morning hours to serve the community.”

Sixth Annual Run for Hope Wrap-Up

Our Run for Hope was a lot of fun…can you tell?

The Sixth Annual 5K run/walk (with optional “color” route) raised $2,993.95 for Hope for Haiti. Congrats to event winner Ethan Deecher ’18, who ran the multi-terrain course in 21.17!

Full results are available here on Cool Running.

We’d like to extend a thank you to our sponsors:

Backpacks for the Homeless

The Key Club undertook a new project this year: Backpacks for the Homeless. Students, faculty, and staff donated both backpacks and the items to be put inside them.

The project, led by Academic Dean Mr. Ruiz, was a great success. Students sorted the donations, and on December 21, they delivered 42 backpacks filled with assorted toiletries, gloves, scarves, hats, and socks to the First Congregational Church in East Longmeadow, MA. The bags were then distributed by the church to homeless individuals who participated in the holiday dinner the church provides annually on Christmas Eve.

Thank you to all who took part in the project!

Outreach: Seniors Connecting with Seniors

One of Ms. Tomkiel’s English 12 classes recently took a field trip to the Belchertown Senior Center. The students had just completed a unit on the literature of “origins and insights” and interviewed seniors on that topic. There were three WWII vets, a gentleman who brought his son (himself nearly a senior!) to assist, and a few former teachers.

Ms. Tomkiel said it was a lovely experience that gave students a chance to pair authentic writing with community outreach. The students will write up their interviews in prose and poetry and will present their works to the seniors as a thank you.