In the days prior to Thanksgiving 2022, nearly 2,600 food items were donated to the Montville Township High School Key Club. For two decades the MTHS Key Club has collected and donated food to the Montville Township Kiwanis Club Food Pantry.
There are about 200 members of the MTHS Key Club. Roughly 50% of them participated in the 2022 Key Club Food Drive for the Kiwanis Food Pantry.
“Executive members of Kiwanis felt this year's Food Drive was the most successful one we have ever planned,” said Assistant Principal Kenneth Nadzak.
For Thanksgiving 2022, over 90 members of the MTHS Key Club mobilized the entire school and much of the community at large.
“Forty local families received two bags filled with food, two ShopRite gift cards -- thanks to Kiwanis -- and personalized greeting cards,” Nadzak explained. “So much credit goes to Dan and Julie,” Nadzak added. “Their vision, leadership, quick thinking, hard work and positive relationships with students made this year's event truly memorable.”
Ramirez and Swenson give primary credit for the success of the 2022 MTHS Key Club food drive to the students.
“We are very proud of the Key Club and especially of our officers. They really did a great job,” said Swenson. “The students came up with the idea of Homeroom Ambassadors and creating a QR code system to track the number of donations. We had 39 Key Club members participate as student ambassadors throughout the week, which meant they encouraged their assigned homerooms to participate, they counted the donations every day, entered them in a Google Form, and eventually delivered the items to our sorting location.”
Those daily reminders by Homeroom Ambassadors, as well as the MTHS MTTV videos produced by teacher Anthony Lodato's video production classes, raised awareness and encouraged participation throughout the school.
Teacher Victoria Parsloe's Art Club students, along with several of the school’s 200 Key Club members, created beautiful handmade cards to place in the bags of food.
After the bags of food had been packed, sorted and delivered, Swenson reflected on the handmade cards. “They were truly beautiful.”
Other Montville Township Public Schools, as well as the district offices, also assisted the MTHS Key Club in their drive.
“Roughly 2000 or so food items came from the high school collection,” Swenson said. “And about 500 to 600 was dropped off to Assistant Principal Ken Nadzak.”
Many of those additional items were collected at Robert R. Lazar Middles School.
Swenson said that the 2022 MTHS Key Club food drive engaged about half of the entire 200-member club. But she also said that “It truly was a school-wide event,” as she explained the extensive number of volunteer hours that were required to promote, collect, sort, prepare and deliver the holiday bags for distribution to the Montville Township Kiwanis Club Food Pantry.
As MTHS approached the final hours of classes on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Key Club members, with friends, as well as Spanish and French classes, and other classes, and teachers and staff, participated in sorting, packing and preparing the donated items for delivery.
“Aramark (custodial services) and many faculty and staff members also supported the event by helping out throughout the week and the day,” Swenson added. “They were all a huge help.”
Students worked during both halves of lunch to help sort and pack. Many came during other parts of the day if they had a study hall or a substitute. Fifteen to twenty Key Club students also came at the end of the day for the final sorting and packing,” Swenson explained. “It was truly a whole school event.”
Brendan Glennon, the MTHS Key Club president, totaled the number of volunteer hours given by Key Club members at 148.
“This still may not include the students that came to help during their study hall or if they were able to be excused to help, or the students who helped who were not part of the Key Club!” Swenson concluded.
At the end of the month-long initiative, the MTHS Key Club posted on the @montvillekeyclub Instagram: “Key Club would like to thank all who contributed to this years Thanksgiving Food Drive! Thanks to your generosity and determination to help others, we collected over 2,500 items which will be going to local families in need.”
Montville Township High School serves the needs of 1,110 grade 9 through 12 students. MTHS is one of seven schools in the Montville Township Public Schools pre-K through grade 12 district. MTHS Key Club is affiliated with the Montville Township Kiwanis Club.