LEETONIA - Students at Leetonia High School are spearheading a community garden at the local library through their freshly formed and rapidly growing Key Club.
Started in December with just five students, the club has grown to 33 current members. Sponsored by the Western Mahoning Kiwanis in Canfield, the club includes students in grades nine through 12 who want to serve their community through large-scale projects and assisting other community organizations in their endeavors.
According to adviser Lisa Besozzi, the club operates in much the same way as its sponsor organization, providing students a chance to serve their community while developing character and leadership skills.
"It's not based on grades; the only requirement is a serious commitment to community service and hard work," she explained. "[The students] aren't getting anything back other than giving to somebody else."
Located behind the library, the community garden is open to anybody and all produce harvested from it will be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry located at St. Patrick Church in Leetonia. Donors who have helped start the garden include M.E. Supply, Bob Stark and B&S Terrain Contracting and Brock Construction, along with the cooperation of the library board and Director Lisa Rohrbaugh.
Hand garden tools and a container to store them in are still needed. Anyone wishing to donate to or participate in the project should call the library or contact Besozzi and the high school.
The club will also be taking on other upcoming long-term projects including renovations at Wick Park, such as repairing the basketball court, completing landscaping and painting the playground equipment in an effort to restore the historic essence of the facility, and addressing issues at the tee-ball baseball field in town.
All ideas for the club's projects have been generated by the students, Besozzi said. "I'm elated and inspired by seeing these kids work so hard ... for something so selfless," she said.
Besozzi said the students are constantly approaching her about the garden, wanting to know what they can do next to help and offering their own donations to get it going.
"It gives me hope," she said. "It's exactly what we're to be doing."
Club officers this year are President Seth Whitmore, co-vice presidents Tanner Tullis and Quinton Walters, Treasurer Michael Inboden, Historian Mitch Baker and Secretary Evan Davis.