Anchor House, area kids aided by group


A student-led organization is making the season bright for less-fortunate children in the community and providing comfort to homeless families at Anchor House Family Assistance Center.

The Seymour High School Key Club, which provides students with community service opportunities, organized and carried out two projects recently to help those in need.

Key Club is a youth division of Kiwanis International and teaches students to be leaders in their school and community through service and volunteerism.

The first project involved putting together 48 Home Sweet Home kits to be distributed to families successfully completing the eight-week program at Anchor House in Seymour. Each kit contains basic living necessities such as laundry detergent, dish soap, towels, household cleaners, basic hygiene items, cookware and other useful products.

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To fund the kits, Key Club President Sydney Berman, with assistance from club adviser Adrianne Hernandez, applied for and received a $1,000 Youth Opportunities Grant through Kiwanis International in October.

Berman also sent letters to local businesses and organizations asking for support and received donations from Premier Companies, Pet Supplies Plus, Jackson County Health Department and Seymour Kiwanis Club.

Key Club used the money to purchase the items for the kits, and then nine Key Club members, including Berman, spent time at Anchor House sorting and putting the kits together.

“It was a fun and rewarding day,” Berman said.

After they had completed assembling the kits, Anchor House Executive Director Deb Bedwell took the group on a tour of Anchor House, showing students where families stay and how the food pantry operates.

“Overall, this grant showed how fortunate myself and others are to have what we have,” Berman said. “It is rewarding to know that 48 families will have a good start in their new home.”

Berman said she has learned a lot through the project.

“It taught me a lot about dedication, follow-through and servant leadership,” she said. “I plan to apply for similar grants in the future to keep this project going even after I graduate.”

For Christmas, Key Club decided to sponsor an Angel Tree. Club members collected names of children for whom to purchase presents and ended up with a total of 45 “angels.”

Emily Kleman and Makayla Kieser were in charge of the Angel Tree this year.

“These children’s parents need help in providing Christmas because they may not be financially able to do so,” Kleman said. “The children’s needs are usually focused on clothes, but we also like to get these children some toys. Our combined efforts will hopefully bring a little more joy into Christmas for these children.”

“It feels good to be able to give back,” Kieser added. “It makes you appreciate all that you have.”

To help get more students involved and to be able to buy more presents, Key Club reached out to other clubs and sports teams at the school to “adopt a child.” Other participating groups from the school included National Honor Society, FFA, the boys basketball team and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Students purchased and brought in the requested items or gave money.

Kieser also got in touch with Immanuel Lutheran School, Seymour Kiwanis Club and some of her relatives to support the cause.

“I chose to do Angel Tree because it represents what Christmas is really about,” Kieser said. “I’m passionate about it because I know I’m making a difference in these families’ lives.”

Earlier this month, Key Club members began sorting and delivering the presents to the elementary schools.

“When you’re going through all the presents you’ve collected, it truly makes you feel like a kid all over again,” Kieser said.

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