The Kiwanis Club of Liberty County has fewer than 15 members, but its collective community service has a lasting effect.
The group, which was named Civic Organization Volunteer of the Year, has donated several hundred service hours to monthly children’s literacy projects, the annual Read Across Liberty event and reoccurring projects, such as Toys for Tots and Keep Liberty Beautiful Cleanups.
“There are a lot of great public-service people who do a lot of stuff, but for a small club, this Kiwanis club really does a great deal, and it’s because of the people that we pull it off,” President-elect Dr. Bob Hughes said. “It was a great feeling.”
Each year, the group coordinates Read Across Liberty in conjunction with Read Across America. It rallies volunteers to read in the classrooms of every preschool through third-grade class and aims to provide books for students in pre-K to fifth grade.
Promoting early childhood literacy is one of Kiwanis International’s primary initiatives, and the club makes the mission a recurring project, according to current President Michele Walls.
Two volunteers each month take time to read to and provide books for four classes at the Liberty County Pre-K Center, and the group also sponsors a scholarship for Fort Stewart Youth ChalleNGe.
“Statistics show if children can’t read, they’re going to end up in prison or drop out of school,” Walls said as other members added that the initiative also helps to increase confidence among children and support graduation goals.
“Kiwanis is about the children,” Walls added.
The group also will hold its first-ever 5K run Saturday to raise funds for Liberty County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, which advocates for abused and neglected children.
The run will begin at 8 a.m. at the Liberty County Courthouse Annex, 112 N. Main St. in Hinesville. Individuals can run for $30, and teams of five are $125.
The group also sponsors the Builders Club at Midway Middle School and holds an art and talent show.
Regarding the group’s motivation, Hughes gave examples of global Kiwanis projects that have had positive results.
One, the Worldwide Service Project for IDD, raised more than $100 million to reduce iodine deficiency among children in 103 nations, according to the group’s website.
The current project is a partnership with UNICEF that aims to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus and is in the process of raising $110 million to save the lives of 129 million mothers and their future children.
For information about joining the Kiwanis Club or the CASA 5K, call Walls at 448-1311 or visit www.facebook.com/libertykiwanis.