Key Club goes digital amidst COVID-19


Alyssa Chang, Lauren Guss, and Haley Choe

   Key Club is a highly active community service-based club here at West Ranch, as well as around the world. By teaching leadership skills through service to others, participants gain experience helping out in their communities. Members participate in volunteer opportunities called “projects” to receive at least 10 hours each semester. However, due to the current circumstances posed by coronavirus, changes had to be made to continue these service activities. 


   These alternatives to in-person volunteering include “contactless ways to give back and participate in these events,” as listed by junior Raushni Chowdhury, Key Club Boys and Girls Club Project Chair at West Ranch. 


  Chowdhury explained the club had to get creative to collect donations during the quarantine. “One way that we did this was by leaving baskets out on the porch for people to drop off their donations. We then collected the items safely and donated them.” Flexibility with changing circumstances is just one trait Key Club members have come to master during the quarantine. Additionally, Key Club has “transitioned meetings to Zoom, and meet there on the third Tuesday of every month and also flex time,” said Vice President Isabella Buenaventura. 


   Some projects offered prior to quarantine were the Newhall Library, Stevenson Ranch Library, Boys & Girls Club and Atria Senior Living. Key Club President, senior Rachel Gim, expressed, “For me, I’ve always loved Atria and helping out the seniors, and I think it’s especially more important to help each other during these tough times.“ Different chairs ran these projects and recruited other community-service seekers to help out at these places. Recently, according to Chowdhury, they have shifted to “making cards for healthcare workers and homeless shelter drives.” These are contactless and safe ways to give back, as opposed to the previously stated projects, while still upholding the oath of Key Club. 


   Along with the success in altering community service opportunities, there have also been some struggles along the way. “With the pandemic we can’t get members together to do service events, and it is difficult [trying] to communicate with people when we’re having meetings online,” explained Rebecca Lee, club secretary. “Holding Key Club meetings over Zoom is not as fun as having them in person. I guess holding service events and remaining an active member in general has been a struggle [due to COVID-19].”


   Gim added, “One of the challenges has been how far we can drive to drop off items. We have been doing contactless drop off at someone’s house, so that the person can take all the items at once.” In spite of this setback, Key Club continues to push through these setbacks and complete their charity work.


   With the persistence of coronavirus, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important. Lee explained that  “Especially in the pandemic, people are suffering and the world needs a little bit of help, no matter how that form of help looks like. I think there are definitely communities that are struggling who could use resources that we as West Ranch students can give them. And as Key Club members it’s our duty to serve the community and to give back where we can because we are fortunate enough to do so.” Because of the joy many receive by providing acts of kindness to those in need, Key Club remains a popular club among the West Ranch student body.


   This “fuzzy feeling” volunteering gives you comes from a release of oxytocin and progesterone, which are chemicals related to care-giving, according to a study conducted by Ghent University in 2019. In the same experiment, it was discovered that “volunteering may improve access to psychological resources (such as self-esteem and self-efficacy) and social resources (such as social integration and access to support and information), both of which are found to have an overall positive effect on health,” explained lead author and professor Sara Willems. 


   Especially during the trying times quarantine has put us under mentally, volunteering supplies that boost of fulfillment and purpose that many are trying to find. Key Club has provided students an opportunity to not only change the lives of others receiving this kindness, but to create a sense of satisfaction that may have been lacking these past months. For example, Buenaventura stated, “Key Club is a great way to get involved in the community and it’s also a really easy way to help out others and have a meaningful impact.”


   At the end of the day, Key Club withstood the pressures quarantine has set on their shoulders and found creative ways to continue being active volunteers in the community. Buenaventura’s final message to future members is that “one of our biggest supporters is Kiwanis and through this, people can unlock the door to career opportunities, career guidance and scholarships for college. It’s a really good way to expand your network, as well.”


   “If you are looking for a community that is super helpful and super warm, and are looking for a way to give back to your community and the answer of people in need, Key Club is a really good way to do that. You’ll be able to change your community and small ways, but they will have some lasting change,” Lee concluded.