Laughter and balloons filled the Sunset Elementary School library Thursday afternoon. Elementary school teachers and five high school students worked together to prepare for the evening's Literacy Carnival.
The students were passing the time by talking about some of their experiences volunteering at various events around the community.
"And then at Cowboy Christmas, they put us in a stuffy room for, like, five hours," sophomore Slade Gurr said. "It was a lot of work, but it was fun."
"I really liked helping at KRAI's Holiday Drive," said freshman April Rogers.
The students are a part of Moffat County High School's Key Club. The purpose of the club is to encourage students to serve the community through volunteering.
The club's sponsor is MCHS teacher Cindy Morris.
"I took it over 11 years ago, and it seemed like students were just signing up to put it on their college applications," she said. "I wanted to give more of an incentive."
Morris established a system that allowed for students to earn an academic letter for putting in more than 50 service hours in a year. They receive additional recognition if they can reach 100 hours.
"My hope is that volunteering will become intrinsic," Morris said. "I know my daughter volunteers in college, and she learned to like (volunteering) in Key Club."
During Christmas break one of her former Key Club members volunteered to be Santa for Horizons Specialized Services.
"(Horizons) called me to ask if he could do it," she said. "But I found out he had already volunteered."
Gurr's efforts at the Literacy Carnival put him more than the 100-hour plateau for the year.
"I've worked a lot at the middle school helping with the year book," he said. "I like volunteering because it helps others, and you get to meet people in the community."
Senior Erin Urbanoski joined Key Club as a junior. She recognized that community service looks good on the application and, "It's something to do that's fun other than sports."
The Literacy Carnival was one of the events Morris alerts the students about, but some of the hours come from their own efforts.
"There are a lot of clubs like 4-H and Horizons that provide opportunities," she said. "But kids go out and shovel sidewalks on their own to find hours."
Parents also help come up with opportunities.
"My mom is a nurse at the nursing home, and I help her set up activities," said sophomore Velvett Warne.
Sophomore Kelly Looper also helps with her parents. She said she goes with her dad, Randy Looper, when he sets up flags throughout the community for Rotary.
"I've had some kids really get into it," Morris said. She predicted that last year the Key Club students turned in at least 750 community service hours.