ST. GEORGE — Each year, the St. George Exchange Club recognizes 48 students from the six area high schools as candidates for the “Student of the Year” award at their high school. Two students are then picked to be the Exchange Club’s representative at the Rocky Mountain District of the National Exchange Club organization.
The two students selected this year are Angela Garcia from Millcreek High School and Pyper Schmutz from Snow Canyon High School. In conjunction with Dixie State University, both students received a one-year full-tuition scholarship to Dixie State University, plus a $250 cash scholarship from the St. George Exchange Club.
According to its mission statement, the Exchange Club helps members develop leadership, networking and organizational skills that contribute to success in business, family and personal endeavors.
The Exchange Club provides members with the opportunity to share their time and talents to help others, whether it’s reaching out to an abused child who needs love and affection, organizing a community crime prevention program or wielding rakes in a clean-up project.
The St. George Exchange Club, founded in 1974, is associated with Exchange, a national all-volunteer service organization based in Toledo, Ohio. Its primary focus is child abuse prevention.
In Southern Utah, the Exchange Club supports the Children’s Justice Center and sponsors the Southern Utah Performing Arts Festival, where over 5,000 area music and dance students are professionally judged during a four-week event, with the winners receiving scholarship funds to further their music education. A “Festival of the Stars” concert highlights the brightest of each genre judged during the festival.
Brian Tenney, a St. George Exchange Club member, said the club started the St. George Marathon and ran it for a few years until it became too large for the club to handle and then donated it to the city of St. George. The club now sponsors the Mayor’s Walk in conjunction with the marathon as a fundraiser. It also sponsors the St. George Ironkids Fun Run as a fundraiser.
Funds the club has raised have gone to help provide playground equipment for city parks, including more than $125,000 for St. George’s Thunder Junction All Abilities Park. In addition, Exchange Club funds have gone toward a scoreboard at the recreation center, the pavilion at Bluff Street Park and thousands of dollars’ worth of trees planted along the city trail system, among other donations.
The Exchange Club also promotes respect and passion for America. Tenney said club members can be found along parade routes handing out American flags with its sponsored program, “Give a Kid a Flag to Wave.”
The club also sponsors Freedom Shrines in public buildings and schools. The shrines are permanent mounts of the club’s collection of 30 of the most important and historic American documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Gettysburg Address.
The Freedom Shrines, Tenney said, show youth the strength and courage of their forefathers by allowing them to read the immortal words of inspired Americans who so decisively changed the course of history.
For more information on the St. George Exchange Club, go to its Facebook page.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.