More than 70 Middle Township High School students and several staff members volunteered their time and services on the evening of Nov. 15 to host a pre-Thanksgiving event for the clients of Caring for Kids, an organization in Cape May County serving families with young children who are in need.

More than 100 Caring for Kids clients, about half of them children, attended the event, which was held in Middle Township High School's cafeteria.

The members of three of MTHS' after-school clubs - the Interact Club, Key Club and Red Cross Club - hosted the dinner.

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This was the first time the high school's clubs have joined together to host one event, said Interact Club adviser Jon Decker, who spearheaded the event.

Decker said the partnership among the three clubs, all of which share a civic-minded mission, allowed for the students to do a bigger and better event than is typically possible.

"The Interact Club alone couldn't have hosted something this big, nor could the other two clubs," Decker said, as he stood in the cafeteria watching the action take place around him.

Key Club President Jennifer Hicks, a senior, said she was proud that so many of her classmates showed up to volunteer. She admitted she was a little nervous about how many would actually show.

"Key Club is all about getting involved in your community and helping people out," Hicks said. "We chose to host the event for Caring for Kids because maybe these families don't have the ability to have a big Thanksgiving meal by themselves."

The event included a traditional Thanksgiving meal and all the fixings, prepared or purchased by the students and the staff, as well as post-dinner activities for the children, such as pumpkin painting, coloring activities and an ice cream sundae-making station.

While the children enjoyed the after-dinner fun, the adults went into separate classrooms for their monthly organization meeting.

Caring for Kids client Joanne Ciferini, who attended the event with her husband and four grandchildren, said it was nice to see high school-age students giving back to their community.

As she spoke, her 1-year-old grandson was sitting on the lap of a high school student painting a pumpkin and her 3-year-old granddaughter was with another high school student who was helping her add toppings to an ice cream sundae.

"It's nice. I get a break from cooking, and the kids are having fun," Ciferini said. "And they'll be tired tonight."

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