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NEWS | March 25, 2020

Camp Zama Youth Center’s Keystone Club Donates Canned Goods

By Winifred Brown US Army Garrison - Japan

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Thanks to the Keystone Club at the Camp Zama Youth Center, the Missionaries of Charity in Tokyo will have more than 200 canned food goods to add to their efforts to feed the poor.

Club members, however, didn’t do it alone, said Kayesha McNeill, a senior at Zama Middle High School and president of the club.

Members of the club collaborated with the National Honor Society (NHS) at Zama Middle High School to gather the food at the school, and members of the Knights of Columbus Council 14821 at Camp Zama plan to deliver it to the Missionaries of Charity March 29.

NHS and Keystone members wanted to collaborate on a project, and they decided on the food drive at their school because they wanted to provide something useful to the community, said McNeill, who is also a member of NHS.

“We all made boxes and we put them in each seminar, and then we kept them in there for a couple of weeks and people would drop in cans,” McNeill said. “We made it a competition, so whoever won, whoever brought in the most cans, would get a pizza party.”

William Birdsall, a program assistant at the Camp Zama Youth Center, and Skylar Venn, 16, a volunteer from the center, delivered the canned goods to Buddy Mancera, treasurer of Knights of Columbus Council 14821, and Shigeo Utsumi, Catholic community coordinator, at the Camp Zama Chapel March 19.

Members of the Knights of Columbus bring donations to the Missionaries of Charities, an organization founded by Mother Teresa, once a month, and the Keystone donations would stay in the Catholic offices at the chapel until members were ready to deliver them, Mancera said.

Mancera said he was excited and grateful that the Keystone Club offered the donations.

“Mostly our donations come from the church and friends, but this is the first time I’ve heard that the kids are going to donate, so I’m so glad that they’re doing it that way,” Mancera said.

Keystone Clubs, associated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, provide leadership development opportunities for teenagers 14 to 18, and they are located throughout the United States and at Army garrisons throughout the world.

Kyla Troxel, a program assistant at the Camp Zama Youth Center who supervises the club, said the club focuses on community outreach, and since the emphasis is on teens developing leadership skills, she lets them take the reins during meetings.

“I’m not the leader of the meeting,” Troxel said. “I’m not holding the meeting. I’m just there to supervise or if they have any other questions. They hold the meeting and they make all the decisions.”

The club has about 10 members who regularly come to meetings, Troxel said.

McNeill said she has been a member since she was a freshman, and going to the National Keystone Conference last year inspired her to take on a leadership role with the club.

The leadership skills she has learned over the years helped a lot during the canned food drive because of the amount of collaboration and planning involved, McNeill said.

“I’m happy that we were able to successfully get it there and hand it off,” McNeill said.

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