VICENZA, Italy – The annual Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service has developed into a nationwide effort to transform the federal holiday into a day of community service, which is nationally known as a “day on, not a day off”.One of the projects that took place this year within the Vicenza military community involved students, enrolled in the Child and Youth Services (CYS) Keystone Club, named the Keystone Cougars.With the guidance of Danielle Campos, CYS youth program Keystone advisor, the Keystone Club aims to have a positive impact on club members and the community.“The Keystone Club provides leadership development opportunities for young people 14 to 18 years old,” Campos said. “Youth participate in activities in four focus areas: academic success, career preparation, community service and teen outreach.”After collecting and sorting the clothes, Campos explained they planned to take them to a local association as a donation. “We recently held a clothes drive to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service,” Campos said.The gently used clothes for children, four to 14 years old, were presented to “Vicenza for Children”, a non-profit organization the garrison is partnered with in the town of Marola Jan. 27, 2021.“Having formed this partnership with Vicenza for Children shows that military teens continue to give back to the community and remain resilient. I am proud of what the Keystone Cougars have accomplished this far and look forward to seeing what they will do next for the community along with the newly formed partnership,” Campos said.On Feb. 2, VfC brought donations to the local Italian Red Cross headquarters in the parish of Santa Bertilla, in downtown Vicenza, which benefited the children of local families in need that are assisted by the city’s office of social services, family and volunteer activities chaired by Vicenza’s city councilman Matteo Tosetto.Usually, the Red Cross and the volunteers of the parish take care of distributing food items to some 180 families in difficulty in the province of Vicenza.“I thank the American community and Vicenza for Children for being attentive to the needs of our citizens and sensitive to the younger ones,” Tosetto said.“Through this office, the Red Cross and the volunteers of the parish take care of the basic needs of those in difficulty, and in this case they have also given their availability to distribute clothes for children who live in families in need as well.”During the donation ceremony, participants talked about future engagement with VfC considering this as the first of other projects.“I am thankful for this opportunity for the youth to help support the community and our host nation. We look forward to a sustained partnership with Vicenza for Children,” said Brian Robillard, youth program assistant director, one of the members who helped take the clothes to VfC.Another representative of both the clothing drive and the donation ceremony was Keystone Club Treasurer, ninth-grader Charlie Cottle. He considered it an honor to be part of the event.“The pandemic has brought to light many needs and it was a privilege to help our community,” he said.Cottle’s mother, Katie, accompanied him to the donation delivery as well, while appreciating this service opportunity.“As a parent, one of my greatest desires is to see my children serving others. I am so thankful for the Keystone Club and its leadership. For this, I pray that our youth will continue to serve. ‘Dum Vivimus Servimus’ [While we live, we serve],” she said.Helping the community through the CYS youth program is an important step in life according to Davisen Poorcelan, CYS youth program director.“When they [students] leave this program, we hope they take this memorable experience with them and, in later years, plant it in another country or community, which is what we expect from our Keystoners”.VfC members were grateful for this and future initiatives, which will strengthen bonds.“I think this is a great opportunity for integration between the two communities, an occasion in which actions are carried out and not just in words. The youth of the American community has been good at thinking about less fortunate people of a community different from theirs,” Silvia Marchesin said, VfC representative, after accepting the donation on behalf of the association alongside Silvia Antonello, another VfC member.Antonello said that the initiative of the American students is a great lesson.“Dedicating a day to social and community service is something we are looking forward to in the future, and that we Italians should take as an example,” Antonello said.