Around the world, the Kiwanis Club has approximately 600,000 members. The Lloydminster Kiwanis Club accounts for about 35 of them.
“I think we’re one of the best things in the community but we don’t blow our own horn,” said Vera Gallant, past president of the Kiwanis Club’s local chapter.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, the horns will be out as the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club celebrates Kiwanis International’s centennial anniversary at the Kiwanis Park.
Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. the club will serve hotdogs, hamburgers and Filipino food, take in speeches from dignitaries, enjoy music and entertainment and draw for prizes, which the group hopes to receive via donations from community members or businesses.
For the past 100 years, Kiwanis International has been on a mission to change the world, one child and one community at a time. For the last 31 of them, the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club has been carrying out that mission.
“Our yearly project that we do at Christmas, the Santa Project, is my favourite,” said Shari Klenk, the Lloydminster chapter’s current president. “We deliver to all the elementary schools from kindergarten to Grade 2. There’s about 1,800 bags we deliver and each bag has a toy and lots of candy in it and each child gets the chance to sit on Santa’s knee.”
Along with the Beanie Baby Project and the Kiwanis Educated Youth (KEY) Club, the Santa program is one of the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club’s most notable and impactful programs.
“One year there was a little six-year-old that was being adopted that year, and she was crying, she was telling Santa that she was gonna go live with a new (mother),” said Gallant, who is now chairing the upcoming anniversary party. “She’s crying, the kids in her class are all crying, we’re crying, and she clung to Santa for dear life. It was like she just needed to know somebody loved her.”
Other programs, like the one-off Sandbox Project, in which the club built and delivered sandboxes to 20 families, have also made a mark in the community.
“One family, it was a single mom with three children,” said Gallant.
“We sat and visited with the kids and with the mom for a while. Within a year, I saw her at city hall, she was working and she said, ‘Knowing somebody cared enough about us to do something like that for us motivated me to make a better life for myself and my children.’”
While the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club maintains its focus on the local community, the group is also fixated on contributing to Kiwanis International’s ongoing worldwide project called Eliminate. The initiative is striving to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.
“This was a project that we kicked off five years ago and our goal (internationally) was to raise $110 million by the end of 2015,” Gallant said. “As of today, we are over $100 million.”
Eliminate marks the second mass global project for Kiwanis International. In 2000, the organization capped off a program that raised more than $100 million to help bring an end to iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).
According to Kiwanis International, IDD was the largest cause of preventable mental disability and the club’s efforts changed lives in 103 nations.
On Sept. 19, the Lloydminster Kiwanis Club will symbolically unite each Kiwanis nation as it celebrates 100 years of Kiwanis International’s mission to change the world, one child and one community at a time.