Kiwanis effort to help children

Chelsea Kiwanis members pose for a photo at their December meeting.

By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist

Members of Kiwanis International raise nearly $107 million every year for communities, families and projects, according to the volunteer organization’s website Kiwanis.org. They stage nearly 150,000 service projects.

A group of people in Chelsea are a part of this effort.

“Each year, most of our budget is given to King’s Ranch and local Chelsea charities,” said Maureen Mayfield, historian for the local Kiwanis Club.

This is why members, all volunteers, work as they do, she said, to help their communities.

Kiwanis members “build playgrounds, volunteer at local shelters, stock shelves at food pantries and tackle any project to change the world one child and one community at a time,” says the website.

Other service projects for the Chelsea-based Kiwanis group last year included a peanut butter and jelly drive for Oak Mountain Missions, the Chelsea library, the Fire Department and other service organizations.

They also sponsored a float in the Chelsea Christmas parade.

Kiwanis clubs are located in 80 different nations.

There are 105 clubs in Alabama, with eight of these in Shelby County, explained Dale Neuendorf, Chelsea’s Kiwanis club secretary.

Kiwanis Clubs around the world sponsor service clubs for all age groups. The Chelsea group sponsors Key Club at Chelsea High School and Builders Club at Chelsea Middle School. “We want to get Builders Club more motivated this year,” Neuendorf said.

Key Club, touted by Kiwanis International website as “the oldest and largest service leadership organization for teens,” is active at Chelsea High.

All Kiwanis clubs combined devote 12 million hours to service each year.

At the Jan. 3 Kiwanis luncheon meeting held at Liberty Baptist Church, Donald Shirley and President Maggie Glass inducted two new members into the club, and Neuendorf gave a short presentation on the history and work of Kiwanis.

Kiwanis is an old Indian word meaning “to exchange,” he said.

When founded in 1915, members focused on business networking. In 1919 the focus changed to service.

Members were men only until 1987, when women were officially allowed to join.

Plans are being made for a fundraising pancake breakfast in early spring. If you would like to help Kiwanis with their service work, watch for an announcement about the date and place of this fundraising event.

Shelba Nivens can be reached by e-mail at Shelbasn@juno.com.