Kiwanis Club | Nonprofit spotlight

Kiwanis International, a global organization with three local chapters, is dedicated to changing the world one child and community at a time. Originally conceived as a businessman’s service organization in 1915, Kiwanis has continued to grow and change to remain relevant in the communities it serves.

Kiwanis International, a global organization with three local chapters, is dedicated to changing the world one child and community at a time. Originally conceived as a businessman’s service organization in 1915, Kiwanis has continued to grow and change to remain relevant in the communities it serves.

“We are celebrating 25 years of having women as members of Kiwanis this year,” said Susan Denning, Kiwanis Club of Alliance and the current Lt. Governor of Kiwanis, Ohio District, Division 17. “Kiwanis attracts people who like to roll up their sleeves and get things done locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

A current international campaign called ELIMINATE has each organization raising funds used by UNICEF to in attempt to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus by the time Kiwanis celebrates its 100th birthday in 2015.

“With the exception of very limited staff positions, we are all volunteers from all walks of life,” Denning said.

Division 17 in Ohio includes 12 clubs in Stark, Columbiana, and Tuscarawas Counties. There are three clubs in Stark County — Kiwanis Club of Canton, Alliance Kiwanis Club, and Kiwanis Club of Belden Village.

The Kiwanis Club of Canton, chartered more than 90 years ago, focuses on youth literacy.

Most of the current service projects performed by the Kiwanis Club of Canton are linked to the Kiwanis international program, “Young Children: Priority One.” This initiative focuses on the needs of young children in pediatric trauma, safety, childcare, early development, infant health, nutrition and parenting skills.

Alliance Kiwanis researched the problem of hunger in the Alliance community and noticed that people using free meal programs and food cupboards did not have access to fresh nutritious foods.

The club partnered with the Akron Canton Food Bank and started doing monthly food distributions. Soon, churches and other organizations pitched in to help them purchase and distribute fresh food.

Five years later, the Alliance Kiwanis Club opened the Alliance Community Pantry, a choice pantry open on a regular basis. It is a nonprofit organization, no longer run by Kiwanis, but Kiwanis members are represented on the board of directors along with several groups.

The Alliance club raises funds through their annual Pancake Jamboree and Waffle Wagon at Days in the Park during the Carnation Festival. Proceeds from both benefit children of all ages. The Kiwanis Club of Belden Village is involved in several local and global service opportunities, including Stark Parks Cleanup on Kiwanis One Day, the annual Tailgate Against Hunger with Malone University for Stark County Hunger Taskforce, From Our Heats birthday cards for troops, dinners for Stark County Teen Court and the Jackson Community Festival.

Belden Village Kiwanis also hosted its first Miles For Moms Walk just before Mother’s Day this year and raised more than $4,000 for the international ELIMINATE project.

ABOUT KIWANIS CLUB

WHO: Kiwanis Club of Canton

PRESIDENT: Merele Kinsey

DONATIONS/CONTACT: dmmurray@malone.edu; 330-452-6705

WHO: Alliance Kiwanis Club of Alliance

PRESIDENT: Mel Rittner

DONATIONS/CONTACT: rslnbn@yahoo.com; 330-821-7877

WHO: Kiwanis Club of Belden Village

PRESIDENT: Jim McVay

DONATIONS/CONTACT: beldenvillagekiwanis.org