RALEIGH, N.C. — Every weekday of the year, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh volunteers at the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh, serving hot lunches to homeless people.
The service project represents only a small part of the community work provided by the charity, which turns 90 years old this year and is one of the oldest Kiwanis Clubs in the U.S. and one of the only ones with over 200 members.
Volunteering and giving through the club fulfills a “sense of duty to the community and getting some real satisfaction about being able to help,” says Hardy Duerson, a retired nuclear engineer who has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh since 2004, says the volunteering and giving through the club
The club, which has the mission of supporting children in the community, gives away $30,000 to $40,000 in grants each year, and its members volunteer a total of about 400 hours a month.
It also sponsors youth groups in the schools and other service projects, and holds five fundraising projects each year to raise money to support its service projects and to generate money for its foundation.
In February, for example, the Kiwanis Club of Raleigh Foundation announced it was making 15 grants totaling $36,600.
And last year it raised over $16,000 through its five fundraising events. Children are the focus of many of the group’s service projects.
Kiwanis Club members, for example, typically attend the service-leadership programs the club sponsors in the Wake County Public Schools.
The club also buys presents and hosts an annual Christmas party for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, gives two pairs of shoes every year to foster children in Wake County, or a total of about 600 shoes, and hosts a Christmas party for foster children.
And, in partnership with the 14 other Kiwanis clubs in Wake County, the club helped distribute 14,000 dictionaries to third-graders in all Wake County elementary schools.
The club’s newest project, a three-year-old effort known as Aktion Club, serves adults with mental or physical disabilities.
Once a month for an hour, five Kiwanis members meet with the group, which typically has 20 to 25 people attending.
Speakers at the meetings talk on practical topics such as independent living or knowing more about the community and local services.
And in December, Kiwanis members accompanied 15 Aktion Club members as they rang bells for the Salvation Army at the Walmart in the Pleasant Valley Shopping Center.
Martha Rippard, secretary of the Raleigh Kiwanis Club, joined in 1997 as its first honorary member, an honor that recognized her 23 years as faculty adviser for the service-oriented Key Club at Athens Drive High School that for many years has been sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.
Rippard, an English teacher who retired after the 2006-07 school year, says Kiwanis offers “wonderful friendships and a way to give back to the less fortunate all the blessings I’ve been given in my life.”
Duerson says the club provides fellowship and “the knowledge that you’re doing a community service by supporting a lot of the charities her in town that help children.”