By News Messenger Editor Ed McMinn and Kiwanis Club Member Ernie Wade
The Christiansburg Kiwanis Club is gearing up to distribute gifts to approximately 60 children at the club’s annual Christmas party.
The club members provide toys and clothing with Santa Claus handing out the presents at the party. Food and drinks are also provided for the children and their chaperones.
The pandemic affected the Christmas Party in 2021 so that rather than a party, the gifts were picked up by the children at the Christiansburg Recreation Center. The names of the children who participate in the party are based on need and are selected by the teachers from
Christiansburg’s schools. Using input from the children’s parents as to needs and sizes of the clothing, each Kiwanian takes a child’s name and buys clothing. The club funds toys from a want list supplied by the children’s parents. This past year the total cost to the members and the club for the Christmas gifts exceeded $11,000.
With the pandemic having calmed down some, this year’s party will happen as it normally did prior to 2021 with the club members distributing the gifts at the party.
The club has a number of programs to support local children during the school year.
- The Head Start Backpack Program. Each Thursday prior to the club’s weekly meeting, Kiwanis members meet at the Head Start building and pack 54 backpacks for the Head Start children. The schools’ meals program provides food for the schools during the weekdays, and the Kiwanis Backpack Program provides food during the weekend. In support of this program, club members prepare inventory, store the food, and pack the bags.
- Two Walmart gift cards, in the amount of $550 ($500 from the Kiwanis Club and $50 from Walmart) were provided to the seven schools in Christiansburg this year. These cards are used to buy needed clothing and school supplies for children who cannot afford to buy their own. Once the cards reach a low balance, the club replaces them upon request from the schools. Before this program was introduced, often teachers and other staff members paid for these needed items out of their own pockets.
- Three $1,000 dollar college scholarships were awarded to Christiansburg High School students this year who needed support for their continuing education.
- For children who cannot afford the entry fees to participate in sports at the Christiansburg Recreation Center and the Christiansburg Aquatic Center, the club pays the cost.
- The Club provides annual support in the form of financing and volunteer assistance to Kiwanis Park where a five-acre expansion is currently underway.
- Other cash contributions were made this year including the Agency on Aging, $2,000; the Intellectual Disabilities Agency of the NRV, $2,000, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, $1,000, the Montgomery County Department of Social Services $614, and the CHS cheerleaders $1,500.
- As a part of the club’s outreach program to provide support to local youth, a partnership was formed with the Montgomery County Social Services to provide supplies needed to support the youth and elders served by the agency.
- In addition to the financial support to the CHS cheerleading squad, the club provided football programs.
- The club co-sponsored the Town of Christiansburg’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt by supplying labor and purchasing prizes
- The club also provided labor to the Montgomery Museum’s Heritage Day event.
The Christiansburg Kiwanis Club is the promoter of the Wilderness Trail Festival, which is not only the club’s largest fund raising project; but is the largest downtown event in Christiansburg, drawing an estimated crowd of from 8,000 to 10,000 attendees.
Club income for its projects is derived from community fund raisers, donations, and grants. All such income goes into the service account, and 100% is funneled back into the local community with most going to support youth activities. All administrative costs, including meeting meals, are paid for by the members’ personal dues.
Kiwanis is a global organization of members. clubs, and partners who are dedicated to changing the world,one child and one community at a time. The Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg has provided service to the local community since its charter was granted in 1949.