Riverview High School Key Club members celebrate their accomplishment.

In partnership with local Kiwanis Clubs, Key Clubs seek to inspire the next generation of servant leaders, and it is evident one club has made a positive impact on the local community despite adversity.

Out of over 300 clubs in Florida, the Riverview High School Key Club was named the 2021 Florida Club of the Year at the annual District Leadership Conference. Led by faculty sponsors Gina Vandenburg and Mackenzie Clark, its members boasted over 3,000 hours of community service. It is no small feat in a post-pandemic world where in-person events are limited.

“These kids knocked it out of the park,” Vandenburg said. “They thought of all kinds of socially distanced service, such as recognizing the efforts of teachers on Instagram, collecting books and writing notes to the children who would receive them, writing letters to homebound seniors, writing encouraging messages to the troops, cleaning local beaches and participating in food and clothing drives with ECHO when able. They never stopped helping others, even if they couldn’t be there in person.”

Clark is so proud of their kids.

“Winning the top club has been our biggest goal since we went to our first District Leadership Conference five years ago. Our club has pushed ourselves to the max of helping out our community,” she said.

There was never any question that this way of life would change, even with the challenges COVID-19 placed on them.

She and Vandenburg wanted to recognize two-year Key Club President Jamila Cox as an integral part of their success.

“She led our goal of keeping active with online activities and she dug deep from May 2020 to the present to keep the club active,” said Clark.

In fact, she was one of the top five club presidents in the entire state. It’s clear she embodies Key Club values in being a student-leader whose care and character are evident in the way Cox seeks to leave her community better than when she found it.

The Riverview Key Club’s example goes to show that when life throws you a curveball, you can still hit a home run. Through creativity and an undying passion for service, these students have brought positive change to those around them.

For more information on Key Clubs, visit www.keyclub.org. For more information on Riverview High School, located at 11311 Boyette Rd., visit www.hillsboroughschools.org/riverviewhs.

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