Lewistown, PA Key Club wins three state awards helping Caitlin’s Smiles by Micaiah Wise Bilger

March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010 LEWISTOWN – The Lewistown Area High School Key Club students never thought when they were creating a celebrity cookbook that they would be the ones in the spotlight.

The student service club won three state awards for its single service project during the Pennsylvania Key Club convention on March 5 and 6 in Hershey.

“Obviously, we’re really excited,” said club president and LAHS senior Lauren Valdivia. “It’s great the project got recognized.”

In the fall, the club collected recipes and photos from celebrities and politicians around the country and published them in a cookbook to sell to the community. The funds raised from the sales were donated to Caitlin’s Smile, an organization that provides arts and crafts kits to hospitals and financial support for terminally ill children and their families.

For their creativity, the club won first place for the single service project; they also won first place for the most money raised by a club and for the highest amount raise per member.

“We put a lot of work into it,” Valdivia said. “But it was not hard to sell. There was a lot of interest.”

Valdivia, club co-advisors Vicki Henry and Randy Fluke and other club members put a lot of their time into paperwork, Henry said. They applied for and receive a grant for the club and filled out applications to enter their service project in the state competition, she said.

The club sold all of its 250 copies of the cookbook, and they are considering a second printing, Valdivia said. Through selling the books and advertisements, the club raised $5,000 for Caitlin’s Smile, she said.

To put it in perspective, Henry said the total amount state Key Clubs raised for the organization was $22,500.

“We’re a small club,” Henry said. “This shows that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

Henry described Valdivia as an excellent president who oversaw and delegated duties to include all club members in the process.

The local project will be judged in the international Key Club convention in July, Henry said.

During the state convention, Valdivia met Cheryl Hornung, Caitlin’s mother and founder of the organization, who invited the Lewistown club to visit their offices.

Henry, who also met Hornung, said: “She got the cookbook and just stood there. … she was really thrilled and said, ‘I want to meet with you.’ It was a little emotional.”

Other Key Clubs also paid the Lewistown group a compliment by asking if they could emulate the idea and create a cookbook of their own, Henry said.

Freshman Courtney Anastasi Foss, who attended the conference with Valdivia, said she attended several leadership seminars and gained ideas for club projects next year.

“I would like to see more kids come to the meetings,” said Foss, who will be the club secretary next year, “and do more projects like cleaning up around Lewistown.”