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HOMETOWN HEROES: Key Clubbers advocate service to community

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By Don Pace

West Las Vegas Key Club members are always on the go, participating in community events and volunteering their time to worthy causes. Members say doing good works is also good for the soul.

Club President Angelique Arguello said, “It’s such a great reward knowing that you helped someone and knowing that you’re making a difference in someone’s life. It’s a great feeling.”

Key Club sponsor Christine Rodriguez said the organization is the oldest and largest club for youths in the world.

Rodriguez said the Key Club is built around voluntarism.

“My kids help distribute commodities every third Thursday of the month, sponsor a number of blood drives throughout the year. They are involved in fundraising for UNICEF and March of Dimes, and participate in the Read and Lead program,” Rodriguez said. “Students also put together booklets that promote health and safety, and then take them to the elementary schools where they read them to the kids. They help the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul with their food drives, as well as helping with the Salvation Army’s Angel tree where they wrap and distribute presents.”

Rodriguez said community organizations often call on Key Club members to help with a variety of projects and in their spare time they help with cleanups around the school.

Rodriguez said the club is part of the Southwest District, which consists of New Mexico, Arizona and Southwest Texas.

“So there’s over 90 clubs that my kids compete with, and everyone knows we’re there because we win and bring home a lot of trophies,” Rodriguez said.

Pointing to the largest trophy on the table, she said, “This big trophy here is from the international competition for single service; we’ve been winning awards for years.”

For the last number of years, West’s Key Club has won first place in poster design, and is in the running for the international competition in Dallas. If the poster wins there, it will be mass produced and distributed worldwide to promote Key Club.

Rodriguez estimated that 75 percent of National Honor Society students are Key Clubbers. Many are also in Boys and Girls State.

West Las Vegas High School Principal Gene Parson said Key Club has been very strong at West Las Vegas High School for the eleven years he’s led the school.

“They were strong before I arrived, and they’ve gotten stronger over the years. I just love to see their enthusiasm and wonderful attitude toward life and giving to others. It’s so good to see them wanting to make their community better. They are going to be leaders in every aspect of their lives. They want to not only make their lives better, but make the lives of the people around them better. I’m also grateful that Kiwanis, a great organization that helps fund their projects and trips,” Parson said.

Sunrise Kiwanis member and local attorney Danelle Smith said she and her organization have been affiliated with the West Las Vegas Key Club for over 20 years, and help finance many leadership building conferences and trips to state and district conventions. She had high praise for Rodriguez, whom she called an incredible sponsor.

“Christine doesn’t get any extra money for her hard work and dedication, and she does just an amazing job with these kids. Encouraging and mentoring them to build leadership skills and dedicating themselves to  community service,” Smith said.