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Service Clubs Make A Difference
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Culminating a busy year with a variety of service projects, members of the Escalon High School Key Club wrapped up 2009 with a trip to help out with the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

It was just one of many activities that kept the Key Club and parent Kiwanis Club team members busy at the end of the year.

Throughout December, the club "had a great time providing tons of services to the community and areas around the state," said advisor Rick Heflin.

Key Club is the youth arm of the Kiwanis, and both groups are active in Escalon.

Kicking off the month, Kiwanis, Key Club and the Friends Helping Friends Club at Escalon High put on a dance for over 150 special needs students from around San Joaquin County, hosted at EHS in early December.

"This event was also the kick off for our Kiwanis House wish list drive," Heflin explained. "Each student brought a canned food item to the dance to help start our collection."

The Kiwanis House offers lodging for families of seriously ill children while they are being treated at Davis or Shriners hospitals in Sacramento. The house also has kitchen facilities so families with children in the hospital can stay close by, as the housing is offered free or at very low cost.

"Each year the Kiwanis give us a wish list of the items they need to keep the house running," said Heflin. "The drive continued from the time of the dance until the last day of finals at the high school.

"Everyone helped and we were able to collect a truck load of supplies for the Kiwanis House."

Club members also helped put together gift bags for students at Dent Elementary, offered a free coloring booth to help entertain kids at Escalon's Christmas on Main Street event and served as Salvation Amy bell ringers at the mall the Saturday before Christmas.

"For four hours we rang bells, sang and opened doors for all the shoppers braving the mall a few days before Christmas," Heflin said.

Wrapping up the month - and year - with what has become an annual activity, 19 students and three Escalon Kiwanis members drove to Pasadena to work on decorating floats for the Rose Bowl Parade.

"We are there mainly to work on the Kiwanis float but we are shared with other groups as needed," Heflin said. "The floats are an incredible work of art. Every surface that can be seen or not on the float, must be covered with plant material."

Once base construction is done, every area is covered with dried plant material, with the last stage adding fresh plants and flowers. Escalon students typically work in the dried plant phase.

"We work in a large warehouse that holds 20 to 30 floats," Heflin said.

Other floats the students worked on this year included the Honda float and the Anheuser-Busch float.

"It was nothing to see the students crawling, sliding and hanging from scaffolding everywhere in the warehouse," Heflin said.

Following the parade project, the students and chaperones enjoyed a day at Universal Studios before heading back to Escalon.