Niles High School Key Club takes part in Turning Over a New Leaf 2018

SOUTH BEND — This time of year, it can seem like the leaves are never going to stop falling. While it can be enjoyable to watch the leaves carry on the breeze, raking up the seemingly endless piles can get old fast.

To help lend a hand to those who might not be physically able to rake their yards, Niles High School Key Club students grabbed their rakes and spent Saturday taking part in Turning Over a New Leaf 2018.

The high school students partnered with the Notre Dame Circle K Club and the Robinson Community Learning Center to complete the project and help residents who live south of the University of Notre Dame campus.

Leona Hein, the Key Club advisor, said this is the second year that the Key Club has participated in the yard cleanup. Each year, volunteers get a list of residents that need help with their yard. This year, the club cleared three yards. In total volunteers from across Michiana were able to rake 30 yards.

For students, Hein said the project shows how a simple gesture of kindness can have a big impact. Last year, Hein described how a man in his 90s was moved to tears by students’ act of kindness.

“[I think it’s just] knowing that people care enough to come and do something for you,” Hein said.

While helping the community is the major goal, Hein said students also get the chance to work with potential mentors.

“It’s neat for the kids to do the service,” Hein said, “but I think it’s neat for them to be around a college campus and college students doing good things.”

After their work, students spent some time snapping photos of the Golden Dome and visiting the campus.

The Key Club is sponsored by the Niles Kiwanis. There are 22 Niles High School students who participate in the club. The main focus of the club is to complete service projects and provide community leadership. Any student is welcome to join the Key Club.

Next, Key Club students will be hosting a sock drive. The socks collected will be distributed to the homeless population.

“We chose this project because socks are the item most requested by homeless people,” Hein said. “Imagine being homeless and not having warm dry socks to wear.”

Those looking to donate socks are asked to drop them off at the Niles High School office, 1441 Eagle St.

Hein said she hopes the club inspires those involved with a lifelong passion for giving back to the community. She recognized students for their work and for representing their Niles community. 

“It is good for them and the rest of the world to see that Niles is here and doing good things,” she said.

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