The program for the Carmi Kiwanis Club luncheon meeting on Thursday, December 08, 2016, featured three community charitable groups that provide assistance to children and families to have a better Christmas.
Program Chairperson, Katelyne Wolff, introduced Don Winkleman, Abbey Gholson, and Beth Conner who briefly spoke of the program they represented.
For the past seventeen years Don Winkleman has chaired the efforts of the local Salvation Army. He praised the many community volunteers who ring the bell at Walmart, those individuals and businesses who donate funds, and the agencies and businesses who help vet those requesting aid and act as conduit to distribute goods and services.
When he took over as Chairman, roughly $4,400 was raised yearly. Last year $20,000 was raised by donations and $23,203 distributed to recipients with the help of private foundation to balance the charitable fund.
Winkleman further reported the average amount of assistance per recipient was $25. The primary reasons for assistance were for food, utility, rent, medicine, gas for emergency use and burn outs.
In closing he expressed deep appreciation for those who volunteer to ring the bell during the 14-day Christmas solicitation at Walmart and those who contribute to the bucket. “It couldn’t happen without you.”
Abbey Gholson, Human Resource Director at First Bank, spoke of the “Giving Tree” project sponsored by First Bank for the past 20 years. The “Giving Tree” is designed to provide Christmas gifts to those children in Pre-K through grade 3 in Lincoln and Jefferson Schools.
Roughly 200 students will receive gifts this year through the program coordinated by the schools. Individuals may call the bank or stop by to donate toward the purchase of the gifts or pick up a name to shop for that student. Volunteers assist bank personnel in shopping, wrapping, and distributing the gifts.
Brown Feed and Chemical assists in transporting the huge amount of gifts from the bank to the Floral Hall on December 23 where designated families have been notified to pick up their gifts.
The employees of First Bank are to be commended for this great effort in organizing and facilitating this “spirit of giving” Christmas cheer.
And finally Beth Conner spoke of a program she and her C-WCUD#5 colleagues developed for students in grades 4 – 12 who need help during the Christmas season. The name of the program is Paws – an acronym for “Providing Awesome Wishes for Students”.
The program is modeled after the above “Giving Tree” concept whereby student names are solicited and gifts are purchased to be distributed to students at Christmas. Donations are provided by teachers and community giving and through social media. This is the third year for the program. The first year saw 100 students being served. Last year 135 students received gifts, and this year 170 students have been identified as recipients.
Because of the work load involved, the First Christian Church “love in action” ministry has partnered with the teaching staff to assist in the mechanics of the program of purchasing, wrapping, transporting gifts to the respective attendance centers, etc. In addition to meeting the needs of the students, hams and other Christmas meals are provided for some families.
In club business, President, Jeremy Jordan, announced Kiwanians will ring the Salvation Army Bell at WalMart on December 10 and 17. Next week’s meeting will be held at Brownsville School for the annual Christmas sing-a-long with the students.
Keith Hoskins inducted two new members to the Kiwanis ranks. They were Brook Walters and Rickie Pollard. Jeff Pollard was a guest of the club. Also, honored guests were 2nd quarter Most Valuable Bulldogs from Jefferson Third Grade: Malyiah Mayo, Preston Shelton, Datney Winebarger, and Kadence Rankin.