Learn­ing about Ki­wa­nis, plant sale

The Weekly Vista - - Community - LYNN ATKINS latkins@nwadg.com

They meet once a week and hear from a va­ri­ety of speak­ers on sub­jects rang­ing from birds to foster chil­dren while they en­joy a friendly break­fast. It’s a tra­di­tion that’s been go­ing on for years in lo­ca­tions all over the United States, but the Bella Vista Ki­wa­nis Club, like many other ser­vice clubs, is hav­ing trou­ble re­cruit­ing new mem­bers, mem­ber Julie Storm said.

Storm is still a rel­a­tively new mem­ber. She was asked to help with the web­site, but she was so im­pressed with what she saw that she joined the club. The club has about 22 mem­bers, she said.

Since join­ing, she’s heard about foster fam­i­lies from a group that helps them take care of chil­dren, The Call of NWA. She’s heard about the new chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal in Spring­dale and from the su­per­in­ten­dent of schools in Gravette. They of­ten in­vite rep­re­sen­ta­tives of new busi­nesses to speak, and that’s where she met the owner of the Blue­bird Shed and the new flower shop, Just Petaling.

The weekly meet­ings are only part of what the Ki­wa­nis Club does. They are a ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion and their ser­vice is al­ways di­rected at chil­dren, Storm said.

The club helps sup­port about 15 lo­cal chil­dren’s pro­grams, she ex­plained. The list in­cludes the Bella Vista Preschool, the Boys and Girls Club, and Head Start. It also funds two schol­ar­ships each year for Ben­tonville and Gravette High School se­niors.

It helps sup­port the food pantry at the Lutheran Church and re­cently has started col­lect­ing peanut but­ter at its monthly meet­ings. Pantries, Storm said, can al­ways use peanut but­ter.

The money raised in the two ma­jor fundrais­ers al­ways stays lo­cal, she said. One of those fundrais­ers is happening this week­end. Each spring, Ki­wa­nis vol­un­teers sell hang­ing plants in the park­ing lot of the High­lands branch of Ar­vest. The plants in­clude petu­nias, ferns and be­go­nias. The sale is al­ways planned to co­in­cide with Mother’s Day which is May 13 this year. The sale be­gins on May 10 and con­tin­ues through Satur­day, May 12.

The other ma­jor fundraiser also has to do with plants. Each Christ­mas, Ki­wa­nis mem­bers sell poin­set­tias to fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

There are smaller fundrais­ers through­out the year which help pay the club’s ex­penses. Mem­bers just fin­ished a mem­ber mys­tery auc­tion. Mem­bers brought in a wrapped item and bid on each other’s pack­ages with­out know­ing what is in­side. One mem­ber won a hand­made afghan. Oth­ers went home with Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.

The small fundrais­ers helped the lo­cal chap­ter earn a model club des­ig­na­tion from the na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion, Storm said. They pledged $1500 per mem­ber to a na­tional cam­paign de­signed to elim­i­nate tetanus. It took them sev­eral years to ful­fill the pledge since funds from their ma­jor fundraiser al­ways stay lo­cal. Even­tu­ally, they did it and they have a patch to prove it on their club ban­ner.

Ki­wa­nis Clubs of­ten spon­sor a Key Club for chil­dren in their ser­vice ar­eas. In Bella Vista, the Key Club is K-Kids at Cooper El­e­men­tary and it’s very suc­cess­ful, Storm said. She cred­its Cooper coun­selor Buddy Hern­don with the suc­cess.

When he took over the pro­gram this year, he re­al­ized it was a lit­tle too pop­u­lar. In the past, the group num­bered 200 sec­ond-, third- and fourth-graders. Two hun­dred el­e­men­tary stu­dents make it dif­fi­cult to get any­thing done, he ex­plained. Also, the sec­ond-graders re­ally aren’t old enough to un­der­stand the con­cept of a ser­vice club. This year, Hern­don lim­ited it to 25 third-graders and 25 fourth-graders. He let the thir­dand fourth-grade teach­ers de­cide who made the cut.

As a club, they’ve made cards for nurs­ing home res­i­dents and for veter­ans. They col­lected food and added it to the adult club’s Christ­mas food drive.

“This com­mu­nity does so much for our kids and our fam­i­lies, so it’s im­por­tant that we give back,” Hern­don said.

The adult Ki­wa­nis and the K-Kids worked to­gether on a suc­cess­ful fundraiser for the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal in April, along with other clubs in the re­gion. It was a “Fun Walk” and it took place at Har-Ber High School in Spring­dale.The K-Kids raised more than $1,000 and might have had the largest team at the event, Hern­don said.

Chil­dren who en­joy K-Kids at Cooper may be able to stay with a sim­i­lar pro­gram all the way through col­lege, Storm said. Key Clubs serve all those ages.

Storm said she en­joys all the Ki­wa­nis ac­tiv­i­ties — even sell­ing plants is fun. Also, there are a few ac­tiv­i­ties that are only for fun. There’s the in­stal­la­tion din­ner when new of­fi­cers are se­lected, and there is a Valen­tine Din­ner most years.

Metro Creative Ser­vices

The Bella Vista Ki­wa­nis Club is pre­par­ing for its an­nual spring plant sale which will take place on May 10-12 in the park­ing lot of the Ar­vest branch at High­lands Cross­ing.

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