The Killeen Independent School District’s top civilian volunteer stitched together juice-pouch purses to raise money for a decorative fence sign.

The school district honored top volunteers in several categories, as well as the schools with the most recorded volunteer hours Tuesday at its annual volunteer luncheon at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

Bonita Henderson was Volunteer of the Year Civilian with 1,351 hours between July and March.

Though Henderson is an officer for the Cavazos Elementary School PTO and a member of two district-level advisory committees, it’s the fence clips that spell out “Cheetah Country” that have won her acclaim at the Nolanville school.

The PTO helped raise the money and Henderson worked tirelessly on the juice-pouch purses to sell for the school project.

She and other parents worked seven hours during spring break to attach the fence clips to the chain-link fence in front of the school. The letters and an image of a cheetah face stand 4-feet high and stretch across 15 fence sections.

Cavazos Elementary School was also the top elementary volunteer program of the year with 7,838 reported hours. Principal Joe Gullekson said the effort pays huge dividends on the campus.

“We can’t be as effective without it,” he said. Volunteers read to children, prepare supplies for teachers and keep the stress level down. “It’s a true partnership,” he said.

The PTO helped start a Watch Dog program with parent hall monitors and helps fund field trips.

Gullekson said the project Henderson spearheaded is a pride-builder for the whole school community.

“It’s important to let children know we’re there to support them,” Henderson said. “We’re not just there for them at home, but at school, too.”

The Helping Hands Award went to Darie McCleaves, a frequent and long-term volunteer in many Killeen ISD schools.

Most recently, he leveraged contacts at Northrop Grumman Corp. to help fund a hero’s dinner at Pershing Park Elementary School and the Greater Killeen Lions Club Foundation for a new playground awning. He logged 1,142 hours.

Brenda Smith, Killeen ISD Title 1 parenting and intervention specialist, presented Superintendent Robert Muller with a check symbolizing the estimated value of Killeen ISD volunteers’ 61,891 hours: $618,900 based on $10 an hour.

Other volunteer honors included:

Top Adopt-A-School Partner: Venable Village Elementary partner 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 434 hours.

Volunteer of the Year (Senior): Juanita Kelley, Saegert Elementary School, 880 hours.

Volunteer of the Year (military) Lt. Natalie Bates, 100 hours at Live Oak Ridge Middle School.

Top Middle School: Smith Middle School, 1,416 hours.

Top High School: Shoemaker High School, 2,963 hours.

Corporate Partner of the Year: Central Texas College, which provides support for English as a Second Language and GED classes for Killeen ISD family members, 600 hours.

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