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Kiwanians give socks, shoes, service
Club members donate essentials for schoolchildren in need. They also teach kids to give back.
By Paulette Lash Ritchie PAULETTE LASH RITCHIE, Times Correspondent
Published January 24, 2008
SPRING HILL - Richard Boothby recalls the Kiwanis Club meeting several years ago when a nurse spoke to the group about children in local schools who had ill-fitting or damaged shoes and clothes.
"When she got done talking to us," Boothby said, "there was not a dry eye in the audience."
That visit from Ann Faith, a Hernando County Health Department nurse who works with the school district, set the stage for "Barney's Kids Kids in Need." The effort is named for Barney Mancuso, a Kiwanian for 52 years who asked for donations for children in lieu of flowers before his September 2007 death.
The year that Faith visited, the club donated $1,000 to the children for essentials such as underwear, socks and shoes. The next year, the club donated another $1,000 and added $865 collected from donations in Mancuso's name. In 2007, the club gave $1,650 and the Mancuso family added $550.
The funds are distributed throughout the district through school nurses, who often are in the best position to know which children could benefit the most from the assistance. The Kiwanis Club provides gift cards and the nurses then can buy needed items for the students.
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For years, Kiwanians have been reaching out to children at a young age to get them excited about community service. The Spring Hill and Brooksville clubs have backed student clubs in schools at all levels where teacher advisers are available.
K-Kids is the elementary level club. Here, the emphasis is on teaching children how to be good citizens and that they are part of a community that needs them. "It gets them into community service projects," said Boothby. "It helps them learn good citizenship and responsibility.
Builders Club is more hands-on and is geared toward middle-schoolers. The high school organization is the Key Club. The two focus, at different levels, on service, character building and leadership.
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Local Kiwanians sponsor sports teams, Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Another of the Spring Hill programs is "Project Linus," which provides handmade blankets to children at various agencies.
"Everything involving kids," said Boothby, "Kiwanis is there."