Key Club finds ways to volunteer during pandemic

Muscatine High School Key Club members shopping for their angel tree gifts.

MUSCATINE, Iowa–In past years, large group events and in person volunteering made up the main ways Muscatine High School’s Key Club connected with and served their community. When students returned to school in the fall, Key Club’s student leaders and staff advisors knew they would have to make changes to continue to make a difference safely. Through thoughtful planning and rethinking, Key Club has found a variety of ways to keep their work going even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, many of their volunteering efforts came to fruition, helping people out when they needed it the most.

In order to keep Key Club up and running, students have met in a hybrid model, just like they do for their classes, with only half of the club’s members attending at a time. While Muscatine Community School District went online, club meetings did too. For projects, students devised some that they could do from a distance and made sure to follow social distancing and masking requirements for ones that required them to meet in person.

These efforts have allowed to serve the community in a number of ways. “Key Club members have been brainstorming lots of innovative ways to give back this year – especially with COVID restrictions,” said the club’s sponsor, teacher librarian Jen Keltner. To connect with long term care facility residents who have missed having in person visits, Key Club members wrote letters and had them delivered to nursing home residents. At the suggestion of Key Club member Lindsey Cox, students created gift bags to give to healthcare workers at both UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Hospital and North Port as a sign of thanks for all they do.

Along with these new giving opportunities, Key Club adapted several of their longstanding efforts. As in past years, the club carried on their Santa Grams fundraiser, which allowed students to send a holiday message and candy cane to anyone at the high school. An immensely popular event, the event brought in a record $150, which the club donated to the Muscatine Police Department’s Shop with a Cop. The Club also renewed their support for the Salvation Army of Muscatine by spending six hours bell ringing for the Red Kettle Campaign and shopping for two of the children on their angel tree.

Though their recent activities have looked rather different, Key Club members have enjoyed finding ways to keep serving their community. “I absolutely love service projects within the community,” said Yazmin Moran-Rangel, one of the club’s co-presidents: “It’s always a great time to volunteer, especially with the Key Club members. It makes me feel good to give back to the community and I’m glad to do it.”

During the second semester of the school year, Key Club hopes to find more suitable ways to assist where they can. Though they have not made firm plans, they would like to collaborate with organizations they have supported previously, such as the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center and Muscatine Center for Social Action.