O’NEALS — Minarets senior Justin Hough was inspired by an earlier graduate’s Senior Legacy Experience (SLE), but limited in the ways he could reinvent it, because SLEs cannot be “recycled,” and Justin’s SLE was already decided.
Still, he wanted to recreate this cool event to help a good cause, so Justin turned to the Key Club to help out.
Every senior at Minarets is required to do an SLE and the 24-hour gaming event a year had been very popular. Justin decided to approach the Key Club about hosting the same event and generating funds for Valley Children’s Hospital.
He’s the current Key Club treasurer, so last year he presented the idea at a monthly meeting. His plan was to do the event in December, but that’s a very busy time for students and staff. Justin agreed to head up the entire event in order for it to be a “go.”
With the guidance of principal Dr. Daniel Ching and teacher Therese Righter, Justin began putting together a team. Adult chaperones materialized in the form of teachers Katie Morgan and Michael Vaughn, who each volunteered for a 12-hour shift. Justin approached Raley’s about donating food so that the “gamers” would have ’round the clock food and drink, and Manager Nathan Ching made sure the kids attending would be well fed. Community members made prize donations at Justin’s request, and over $200 in donated prizes were handed out during the course of the 24 hours.
Working closely with the MHS tech team to ensure the 24-event would be successful, Justin encouraged students to bring in their home gaming systems, games and television monitors. They also hooked in to the massive movie screen located in the MHS Media Lounge. The students were able to “compete” in bracket play for prizes.
Raising money for Children’s Hospital is personal for North Fork resident Justin. Many years ago his youngest brother had a five-day hospital stay, their mom Deborah Hough explains, and siblings were not allowed to visit; nor was the sick child allowed to leave his room. On day three of his stay, a very nice woman came around and let him choose a new toy from a cart of toys. He picked a little matchbox car which kept him quite happy and entertained. His older brother Justin never forgot.
The bottom line was, Justin wanted to contribute smiles and happiness to sick kids. So, rather then just hand over a check to Valley Childrens, he put in extra effort to donate toys to the program that delivers a new toy to patients in care.
“The event raised about $700. I took full advantage of the after Christmas sales and was able to get an incredible savings on toys,” says Justin, who was really pleased and grateful with the results. “The money went a lot further then I thought!”
This year, Justin is currently looking closely at his college choices as he continues to receive letters in the mail. This project was completed in addition to his SLE which is still in progress. Justin arranged for his uncle to donate an old trailer which the industrious senior is retro-fitting to be a food truck. When it’s complete, he plans to donate the fully functioning foot truck back to Minarets to help with fundraising in the future.
Justin’s college goal is to be a business major. Clearly, he’s all about business with a side of heartfelt community service.
If you know a student who is working on a senior project and wants SNO to promote the event, please send the information to this link for the SNO calendar or this link for a news story on the website.