Service to community: Leo Club has the prescription
By Dick Maloney
There are many ways to measure community service: number of people helped, number of volunteers, hours spent helping. Clermont Northeastern High School’s Leo Club counted one bottle at a time in 2019 and ended up with 1,040. For its efforts, the club was named Ohio’s Leo Club of the Year for the second time.
A Leo Club is the high school version of a Lions Club. CNE’s Leo Club is sponsored by the Northeastern Lions Club, based in Owensville. “Serving the World One Community at a Time” is the Lions Club motto, and the CNE Leo Club takes that to heart.
More than 40 students participate in the club, which is open to all students. A parental signature on the application is all that’s needed to join; involvement is all that’s needed to stay. Rhonda Campbell, CNE’s advisor, said her club includes students who attend vocational schools or College Credit Plus programs off campus, and some who have transferred to other schools.
Campbell is in her sixth year as Leo Club advisor, and shared a number of stories about club projects, including the one that helped them win the 2019 honor. In 2018, Leo members were helping serve Thanksgiving dinner at the Owensville Commons Assisted Living Facility when a staff member there asked if the club would take pill bottles residents had been saving. They filled a 30-gallon trash bag without realizing the task ahead. This is from their application for the 2019 award:
“Matthew 25: Ministries (in Blue Ash) accepts CLEAN pill bottles, as in NO STICKY RESIDUE at all. None. Period. In addition, they must be washed, dried thoroughly, and mated with an appropriate cap. Then they need to be sorted by size and color and bagged in gallon-sized Ziplock bags. M25M sends the bottles to medical teams working in disaster areas or on medical missions to Third World countries.”
Members sorted through the bottle and went to work in March 2019, with limited success. The labels on the bottles were not easily removed. Eventually they stumbled on the solution – Goo Gone – but even then had to set up an assembly one of sorts. Members would rub the entire bottle with a cotton ball soaked in Goo Gone set the bottle aside, and then after repeating the process on five or six more bottles, then start over, trying to remove labels by hand.
“We reapplied the Goo Gone to any part of the label that did not come off, set it aside again, and worked our way down the line. Some bottles needed one application; others needed four or five.”
Each bottle also needed a matching lid, and individual pharmacies use different bottle and lid combinations. More than a month (and 40-plus service hours) after beginning work on the bottles, they had 100 to donate. Then, the club learned that the space it had been using for work and storage – and old home economics kitchen at the high school – would be converted into a clinic. The project was placed on half until school resumed in August, even as more bags of pills arrived.
Eventually, the Leo Club gained access to an unused computer lab, and members were back to work with a goal of having 500 bottles ready to deliver by Christmas. They worked two and three days a week, cleaning bottles and sorting them by diameter, height and color. So engrossed were members in the project that they didn’t realize they more than doubled their goal, and over the holiday break delivered 1,040 bottles to Matthew 25. The effort is ongoing.
“As long as the bottles come, we will clean them,” they concluded in the application.
They will also continue with other projects – winter clothing drive, hurricane relief drives, volunteering with CNE Elementary PTO, CNE Education Foundation, YMCA, Clermont-Mercy Hospital, a local church, a local daycare, a nursing home, the American Diabetes Association and Special Olympics.
“One of their favorite activities (is) the food-packing events with A Child´s Hope International. Parents have come to volunteer alongside the Leos. They have fun volunteering as a family together, and the students start a friendly competition to see how quickly they can fill the bags. They feel good after this project,” Campbell said.
Seniors in the district interact with Leo Club members during the annual holiday luncheon. Earlier this year, the club hosted its third Father-Daughter Dance for CNE Elementary School students. More than 240 students and dads attended.
A desire to help others is the Leo Club foundation.
“To be a Leo, one does not need to be an athlete or scholar. One just needs to want to help make the community a better place and have a heart to serve others,” Campbell said. “For our school, Leo Club is a place where anyone can find a sense of belonging. Everyone is valued for the talents they bring to the club, but more importantly, they are simply valued as a person.”
About CNE Leo Club
• Won first place in the District Leo Club of the Year four years in a row.
• Were recognized by the Board of Education in a Moment of Excellence.
• Received an award from the Ohio School Boards Association Southwest Region (won in 2017 for Bicycle Safety Rodeo Project).
• Two-time State Leo Club of the Year.
• Past Leo President Elizabeth Glancy won District Leo of the Year, and this year´s President, Kylie Hoerth, is in the running for the same award.
• Volunteer at Pumpkin Run, March of Dimes Walk, Kinley Princess Walk, Tour de Cure, KAMP Dovetail, youth football, college fair, Crafts in the Cornfield, babysitting at preschool parent-teacher conferences, A Child’s Hope International food packing event, Salvation Army kettle bell ringing, SEM Haven Nursing Home open house, Reach Out Dinner, judging at Middle School Spark Research Fair, Link Crew for freshman orientation, Homecoming parade float, PTO Trunk or Treat; Special Olympics Swim Meet; Pennies for Patients (Lymphoma and Leukemia Society).
• Collect used hearing aids.
• Wedding clean-up (bride made donation to group for cleaning church).
• Shopping and wrapping presents for needy children.
CNE Leo Club members (2019-2020)
Seniors – Asia Adkins, Kylee Bragg, Valerie Curran, Lauren Rae Gilstrap, Kylie Hoerth, Gracie Minton, Sarahy Palafox, Jacob Stone, Tierra Tuneberg.
Juniors – Raven Benshoof, Kendra Brooks, Angie Cox, Nicholas Craig, Hollie Daniel, Michayla Eifert, Owen Fishback, Jonathon Keener, Tyler McDonald, Stone McDowell, Hannah newton, Abby Silvers, Emma Stephan, Claire Stenger, Olivia Williams.
Sophomores – Alex Bender, Madison Cruey, Lilly Jackson, Jaelyn Perry, Luke Ortega, Megan Sellars, Cooper Woolery.
Freshmen – Taylor Beasley, Genna Beebe, Mackenzie Donovan, Haley Eifert, Shelby Farmer, Dakota Hunt, John Jackson, Dana Wise, Taylor Gosser.