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Kiwanis Club focuses on helping children

Kiwanis Club of Demopolis focuses on one thing: kids. The club provides services and programs for kids that are in Head Start programs to high school seniors. Kiwanis Club supports the local school system and children’s education through a number of programs.

“We are in support of local school systems and local education. With Kiwanis, it’s pretty much all about the kids,” said Kris Mullins, who has been a member of Kiwanis Club for 15 years and was president for three years.

They sponsor Key Club at Demopolis High School, which is part of the Kiwanis Family. Through that sponsorship, both clubs assist each other with fundraisers. Key Club officers also get to leave school and eat lunch with Kiwanis Club members. Kiwanis Club is there for “help and moral support and financial if they need it.”

Kiwanis Club also awards scholarships to students and match the Key Club’s scholarship fund. That means that if a student is to be awarded a $500 scholarship, they actually receive a $1,000 scholarship thanks to Kiwanis Club. They also sponsor a female student to attend Girls State, a government-in-action learning program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.

“It’s been enlightening, let’s put it that way, and educational too. We always get a report when they get back, and it’s evidently an extremely meaningful experience for them,” Mullins said.

They are huge proponents of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). They provide books to students at the George P. Austin Head Start School in Linden and go read to them three times a year. Sometimes the Key Club members get to come along.

“That’s always met with a lot of enthusiasm. That’s a lot of fun. Any break from routine, [the Head Start kids] are having a fun time with that,” Mullins said.

According to Mullins, there are currently four classes in Linden’s Head Start Program, each with about 17 students each. Kiwanis Club usually gives around four books to each and every student in that program. Let’s do the math on that.

If there are four classes each with 17 students, and each student gets four books three times a year. That means that Kiwanis Club gives away 816 books every year, sometimes more depending on the student enrollment numbers. Not to mention, Kiwanis also pays for every book themselves.

Kiwanis is responsible for much more than educational services. They also are behind the Demopolis Kiwanis Club Playground at the City Landing park and its recent cleanup as part of Kiwanis One Day, they direct foot traffic at the Alabama State Championship BBQ Cook-Off Sampling Event as part of COTR, they do volunteer cleanup and they are responsible for displaying all the flags around Demopolis on the appropriate days.

“It always feels good to be a part of a group that is giving back to the community,” said Michael Mullins, who has been a member of the Kiwanis Club for five years. If you don’t know Kiwanis Club for its contributions to the community, you may know them for their delicious fundraisers. Each fall, they host a Pancake Supper. On opening day of Little League in the spring, they do a Fish Fry. They’ve even raffled tickets to the ever-popular Alabama vs. Auburn football game.

M. Mullins encourages those interested to join Kiwanis Club, which currently has 15 paying members and eight active members. He described it as an “easy way to get involved in the community.”

Despite the small size, it’s obvious that Kiwanis Club of Demopolis makes a big impact.

“I could see some benefits in the community because of that group.” M. Mullins said.

For those interested in joining, contact Michael Mullins at mmullins419@gmail.com

— Teresa Boykin is a staff writer for the Demopolis Times. She may be reached at teresa.boykin@demopolistimes.com

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, Nov. 22 edition of the Demopolis Times.)