BRIGHT FUTURE: Club brings cause to forefrontPublished 12:02am Thursday, October 4, 2012
NATCHEZ — Walking for two hours straight on Saturday will be the culmination of Melissa Lees’ month-long efforts to raise money to benefit suicide prevention.
As president of the Key Club at Adams County Christian School, Lees, a senior, and other members decided to dedicate their September project to raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which organizes the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
“I’ve always been for raising awareness against suicide… so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Key Club to get involved with,” Lees said. “How ever much money we’ve raised in September and this week, we’ll give to the foundation on Saturday at the walk.”
Throughout September, Key Club members were asked to raise donations from other students, teachers, parents or community members in hopes of reaching their $400 goal.
With 23 student members in the Key Club and a minimum donation amount of $20 per student, Lees said she was hopeful the club would reach their goal by Saturday.
“I know I’ve raised about $150 mysel,f and everyone else is still working hard to get in donations before Saturday,” Lees said. “I’m going to feel good about giving the foundation the money because it’s another way to spread the word to help prevent suicide.”
Apart from each student asking for donations, group members also sold yellow — the official color of suicide prevention — bracelets and ribbons throughout the month.
The members also organized to have 30 balloons released at a home football game when the Rebels took on Bowling Green on Sept. 14.
“We ended up giving them to one of the cheerleaders who sits on the goal post when all the players run out, and she let them go,” Lees said. “I think everyone thought it was sweet and for a good cause.”
The school fundraising efforts increased, Lees said, after a fellow ACCS classmate, Tyler King, committed suicide on Sept. 18.
“He was like a brother to me because I was good friends with his older sister,” Lees said. “It made the whole group try a lot more in his memory.”
Lees said she also saw an outpouring of community involvement and support after she visited the Kiwanis Club that same week.
“After the meeting, I had a line of people giving me money to support the cause,” Lees said. “I think everyone has just been a lot more involved since that day.”
As an additional way to honor their classmate, Lees said she and other members would be wearing headbands, bracelets and T-Shirts with King’s initials during the walk.
“That’s just something we came up with this week to honor Tyler,” Lees said. “It’ll help people remember him, and the friend we lost.”
And even though Saturday is also the day of the school’s homecoming dance, Lees said she wouldn’t feel right about not walking the entire two-hour time period.
“I’ll be tired Saturday night when I go to the dance, but I feel like I wouldn’t be putting enough effort forward if I didn’t walk the whole time,” Lees said. “I know Tyler will be looking down that day, and I want him to see just how much I care about him and miss him.”