G-K club makes service impact

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

GENOA – Courtney Winters creates her own opportunities to serve others.

The Genoa-Kingston High School senior thought it would be nice if the school had a club that allows students to participate in community service activities – especially because many colleges look for students who have been involved in extracurricular activities during their high school years.

Over the summer, Winters and several other students worked with school staff to put together the Impact Club. Club members create their own opportunities to help others and decide what organizations, causes or people they want to help through fundraising events.

“The cool thing about our club is we don’t just do volunteering, we also do fundraising events,” Winters said.

Club members collaborate and come up with ideas to raise funds that can help people or organizations in the community. This month, the club held a fundraiser at Culver’s to raise almost $300 for Hope Haven in DeKalb, which provides emergency and transitional shelter for the homeless, as well as permanent shelter for those who are homeless and disabled.

The money was raised in three hours, said Tara Wilkins, the club’s adviser and Genoa-Kingston High School librarian. Wilkins, who was asked to be the adviser because of her own fundraising efforts for the library, said club members are hardworking and phenomenal.

“Just the enthusiasm these kids have to help the community makes it a lot of fun to be a part of,” she said.

The club’s membership has grown to 35 students. Winters said her sister, who is a freshman at the high school, helped grow those numbers by inviting other students to join. She said it would be nice if a club like this would be available for freshmen to take part in during their high school career.

Senior Vanessa Cardenas said she did community service for her church before but knew she wanted to get involved with the Impact Club because of fundraising events.

“I thought that if we could so something that could help the community and not just us, it would be a great thing,” she said.

Cardenas took part in a two-day car wash in September to raise funds for books the high school’s special education students can use. Wilkins said Cardenas got to see the end result when she went to the library and saw special education students check out the books.

Senior Nycol Durham, who helped spearhead the creation of the club, said she’s come up with an idea to do a silent auction for a future event the club is still planning. Collaborating with other students is one of her favorite things about the club.

“I like being able to hear other people’s idea of what they think we can do to impact the community and what charities everyone feels needs help,” she said.

The club is a huge confidence booster for students, Wilkins said. Students get to see themselves shine and make an impact on other people’s lives. Many of them are juggling other extracurricular activities to be a part of the club, she said. But they are all seeing how valuable the club can be for themselves and the community.

“My mom always said helping others is the way to make yourself happy,” she said.

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