RHS students award grants to two local non-profits
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – Two local non-profits were awarded grants by a group of Rhinelander High School students this week. Hodags Care, a project created through the Key Club, sought monetary donations from students that would be donated back to the community.
The idea for Hodags Care came from Superintendent Eric Burke who had experience with a similar project as principal of a different high school.
“Having a program that promotes student investment in their community is something that I see as important for all students,” Burke said. “The Key Club students taking on this program was very impressive and I look forward to seeing this grow over the years to come.”
“This is for the non-profits that have given back to the students,” said Key Club vice president Ben Balge. “They’ve done so much for us and now it’s our turn to do something for them and Hodags Care is one of the best ways we can provide that for our community.”
Of the nine non-profit organizations that submitted applications for the grant money, the students randomly selected four; representatives of those non-profits presented their ideas to the students Monday.
The four were the YMCA of the Northwoods, ArtStart, Boys and Girls Club of the Northwoods and Northwoods Veterans Homestead.
After the presentations, the students voted to award $1,000 to the Veterans project, which aims to build a tiny home neighborhood for homeless Northwoods veterans.
The YMCA was chosen to win a $500 award. Ryan Zietlow, YMCA of the Northwoods CEO, said the money will be used to purchase 25 life jackets to be used by kids attending the Summer Day Camp.
The Key Club was restarted this school year after seeing a decline during COVID restrictions. Though Balge will be graduating next month, he is encouraged by current participation that Hodags Care will continue to grow.
“With the turnout we had this year with a brand new project, I’m really hopeful for the future and what the Hodags Care project will hold for us,” Balge said. I’d love to see it grow and grow, and become a more community-based project.”
The Key Club participated in bell ringing for the Salvation Army during the holiday season, and are planning a talent show at the high school to take place in May.