Charter Night was an extra special event this year for the Anoka Area Kiwanis as the club celebrated its 90th anniversary.
Kiwanians gathered last month to mark the milestone of the service club that has an emphasis on supporting children both locally and globally.
The motto is “changing the community and the world one child at a time” and local member Jan Clemens said the Kiwanians are dedicated to making lives better for children.
“You don’t have to look around very far to find the needs of children,” said Clemens on the many opportunities to help in Anoka and the surrounding communities.
With a current membership of 60, Anoka Kiwanians committed 1,400 volunteer hours last year for community service and fund-raising.
The club has an annual budget of $17,000 for service activities. This includes scholarships and the sponsorships of service clubs at the elementary (K-Kids), middle (Builders Club) and high (Key Club) school levels.
“Our goal is to get younger people involved in community service,” said Clemens.
The club has also sponsored Boy Scout Troop 204 since its inception in 1921. Three current club members earned their Eagle Scout designations with Troop 204.
Fund-raisers to help support these activities include happy dollars and birthday dollars collected at weekly club meetings, Peanut Day donations, ticket sales for the Anoka County Fair, concessions at Anoka Halloween Parade and Anoka Riverfest and the pancake breakfast and bake sale during Anoka Halloween festivities.
Along with sponsoring the local service clubs for youth, Anoka Area Kiwanis also does a clean-up at Akin Riverside Park each spring and fall and is involved in the Anoka Christmas Committee and Toys for Joy, helping to plan and carry out the distribution of toys and food each holiday season.
The club sponsors “Doing Good Together” in partnership with Anoka County Head Start to provide a family service night for children and their families.
Each year a $1,000 scholarship is given to a student at Anoka High School, Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College.
Honoring its members
At the Charter Night celebrations, Jan Anderson was named as the recipient of the Morrie Johnson Kiwanian of the Year. This designation is given to a member who has served the club in an exemplary way. Anderson, a member since 2008, has acted as a liaison between Kiwanis and the school clubs it sponsors. She also compiled two club directories, is the pianist for regular meetings and spearheaded One Day Fun Day – a day when many different Kiwanis clubs come together for a large community service project. She also coordinates the weekly lunch meetings at Green Haven Golf Club.
Anderson will become the club’s president in October, taking over from current president Mike Seymour.
The Legion of Honor Award is given to members with at least 25 years of service. At the 90th anniversary Ward Wilkins received the award for being a 30-year member, while Scott DeLong Jr. was honored for being a 60-year member of the Anoka Area Kiwanis.
The local club was founded in 1921 when Kiwanis district organizer Walter Humpton met with 18 Anoka businessmen. Kiwanis had started as a fraternal organization for young businessmen.
When the Anoka club was chartered the initiation fee was $21.50 and it boasted 68 members. According to information provided by Clemens, charter presentations took place at the Anoka Armory, where Frank L. Slater of the State Bank was installed as the first president.
Kiwanis eventually shifted from being a fraternal organization to a group that focused on community service. Stating in 1987 women were allowed to be sponsored for membership in Kiwanis clubs. Janet Davenport was the first female member of the Anoka Kiwanis Club and later became president in 1982.
Help on a global scale
The local club also takes part in Kiwanis International causes. Kiwanis International and UNICEF have partnered twice to provide funds to improve living conditions around the world. They raised nearly $100 million to successfully eliminate iodine deficiency disorders around the world.
“It shows what you can do when you put all your resources together,” said Clemens.
The current project, which will run though 2014, is to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a deadly but highly preventable disease that kills mothers and newborns in the world’s poorest regions.
The goal is to save the lives of 129 million mothers and their future babies through “Project Eliminate.”
To date, $11.9 million has been raised to provide, transport and administer the vaccine – eliminating the disease in five countries with 34 more to go, said Clemens.
The Anoka Area Kiwanis Club has pledged to raise $20,000 for this cause.
After nearly a century, the club (which includes members from Ramsey and Andover) is looking to add new members and hopes to expand its reach.
“We are looking for people who want to help children and help the community,” said Clemens.
Anoka Area Kiwanis meets at Green Haven Golf and Banquet Center on Wednesdays for a noon meeting. For more information contact Bruce Frank at 763-755-5550.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]