Student devoted to community service

Published 12:02 am Thursday, May 19, 2011

submitted photo Cathedral School freshman Rachel Benoit, left, Epiphany Jackson, Tori Bradford, Stuart Benoit and Sarah Beth Willard paint the parking lot at Cathedral as part of a Key Club community service project.

NATCHEZ — For Rachel Benoit, helping out is all in the family.

Since sixth grade, the Cathedral freshman has followed the footsteps of her mother and older brothers, participating in Cathedral Key Club service projects.

Whether its baking cookies, giving the school parking lot a fresh paint job, wrapping presents for needy children at Christmas time or sorting hundreds of pairs of shoes for disaster victims, Benoit said she likes Key Club because she actually has fun doing the activities.

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Feeling good about a weekday afternoon or Saturday helping others is an added perk, she said.

“I get to hang out with friends while doing something for others,” she said.

The high school freshman has logged 68 hours of service this year alone.

The Cathedral High School Key Club students nominated Benoit out of the club’s 44 members for the most outstanding Key Clubber in the region, which includes 125 schools in Mississippi, Louisiana and western Tennessee.

Last month, Benoit was named outstanding Key Club member of the region.

Hearing her name called at a Key Club banquet as the winner surprised Benoit, she said.

Benoit’s mother, Jean Benoit, a Cathedral High School religion teacher and Key Club advisor, had a hand in getting her involved, Rachel said.

Rachel would attend projects with her mother, and the taste of community service left her wanting to do more.

Watching her older brothers, Cathedral senior — Stuart, and Springhill College junior — Grant, do service projects also rubbed off on Benoit, she said.

“I’ve seen my brothers both in Key Club, and brothers’ friends, and I could see they had so much fun, and it made me want to (participate) too,” Benoit said.

Benoit said her favorite project is Operation Christmas Child. Classes compete for the operation to bring gifts and Key Club members wrap the presents for children at the Natchez Children’s Home.

“I just like it because (the gifts) are going to be appreciated,” Benoit said.

The award Benoit received is called the Sandy Nininger award. It is named for Alexander R. “Sandy” Nininger, a charter member of the Fort Lauderdale High School Key Club, and first Congressional Medal of Honor Winner of World War II.