Gracelynn Wilson loves to help others. So do the 100 or so other members of the Randall High School Key Club in Amarillo, Texas. Their commitment to the community earned the club the 2016 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals—Texas Plains Chapter.
“When you’re doing service, you’re not looking to be recognized. We do it to help our community,” Wilson said. “But, this is awesome. We were very surprised.”
The Randall High School Key Club cooks at the local Ronald McDonald House to help families who have children staying in the hospital.Wilson, the club’s 2016–17 president, leads the Randall High School Key Club in its various projects. The members have raised money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They work events for the March of Dimes. They ring bells during the holidays for the Salvation Army. In all, the 105 members spent more than 7,000 hours volunteering during the 2015–16 school year and are on track to do more this year. That will be an average of a little more than 66 hours of service to the community—per member.
“This group is dependable, energetic and passionate about helping our community,” wrote Jodi Reid, director of the Children’s Miracle Network Amarillo Affiliate, in nominating the club for the award. “The club embodies the spirit of youth in philanthropy through their service and support of area nonprofits.”
“The Key Club members are always organized, professional and eager to help wherever needed,” wrote Carla O’Neal in her letter of support for the recognition. The senior development manager for the March of Dimes Foundation, Amarillo Division, continued, “This (Key Club) and its leaders are an important part of the work we do and we can always count on their support.”
It’s not just the community that counts on the club’s support. In fact, many families rely on it. The club works weekly with Snack Pak 4 Kids, an organization that provides food to families.
“I have grown to know these students and realize that they serve because they truly see that their efforts have changed the lives of over 1,000 children overy month,” wrote Cindy Sheets, the executive director of Canyon Hope Ministries. “Their efforts changed our entire packing program and to this day, we are so grateful for their hard work and extreme dedication.”
For Wilson, the high school senior who plans to study nursing after graduation, Key Club is personal. Her parents instilled in her the responsibility of giving back to the community through service.
“I want to make an impact in the world. I want to make the world better, even if it is just a little bit,” she said. “I love having the heart of helping out. It’s a passion of mine.”
It’s a passion she said will be with her during her entire life.
“As long as I am alive, I will always be a part of the Kiwanis family in some way or another. It is such an important thing.”