Newly established Kiwanis Club aims to support youth development

BUCKHANNON – A service organization that has faded in and out of Upshur County in past years is reintroducing itself with hopes of serving the community’s youth.

The international service organization, the Kiwanis Club, re-established itself in the Buckhannon-Upshur community in September and has already received its charter from the Kiwanis International. With roughly 20 members currently, the club’s focus is on the children of the community, and members already have plenty of goals and projects lined up to serve young people.

“The children of Upshur County face many challenges. We all know the struggles of this county with the drug problem. There is also a number of socioeconomic challenges in this county from poverty to kids being raised by one parent or grandparents,” said founding member Kevin Nicholson. “Kiwanis’ mission is to improve the lives of children in their community. Kiwanis is a perfect fit for Upshur County and hopefully can start and help with programs to better the lives of children in this county.”

Current club president Bob Kincaid explained the organization specifically targets the development of the county’s youth by directly supporting them in the community and by establishing youth clubs such as high school Key Clubs and Circle K Clubs in colleges.

With several service organizations throughout the county, what exactly sets the Kiwanis Club apart from the others?

“Kiwanis assists directly other organizations with their participation of labor, time and resources,” answered Kincaid. “The club unifies and does not attempt to take away from other organizations.”

Nicholson agreed, saying the Kiwanis Club is strictly service-based.

“We will have our own projects, but also assist wherever there is a need,” he added.

Currently, club members have several goals set and events scheduled. The Kiwanis Club is already in the process of establishing a Key Club at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, which has the support of principal Eddie Vincent and the Upshur County Board of Education.

“This will give high school students a chance to serve their community and get volunteer hours,” Nicholson said.

Members of Key Clubs focus on giving back to the community, but also learn leadership skills by running meetings, planning projects and holding elections for leadership positions in the club.

Kincaid said the organization is planning to establish similar programs at the college, middle and elementary school levels.

Looking forward, the club hopes to establish several unique events to promote community service. With that being said, the first big event will be the Bowl-A-Thon scheduled for Dec. 15 at Woody’s Bowling Center. Teams will gather pledges based on the number of pins knocked down in a two-game set or people may pledge a flat amount.

“This is our first fundraiser to help establish the club treasury and provide funds for the chartering of a Key Club at the high school,” Nicholson said.

The organization’s first service project will be assisting the Upshur County Christmas Store by physically collecting donations and delivering them to the Christmas Store’s headquarters for the annual toy distribution.

Thanks to a partnership with Lowe’s and the Upshur County Work Adjustment Center, Kincaid said the club has begun an athletic equipment exchange for the county’s youth, involving a drop-off box, which is being constructed and will be installed out of Stockert Youth and Community Center in December. Folks can drop off sports shoes, belts and more at SYCC.

In January, the club will host its official charter ceremony and plans to launch a membership drive by the first of the year as well.

Those interested in joining the Kiwanis Club can pick up an application at SYCC or at Tateep Unique Boutique in downtown Buckhannon. Club members meet the second and fourth Monday of each month at SYCC.

“Kiwanis of Upshur County needs members that care about the future of our children,” said Kincaid. “Kiwanis also would like to offer assistance to those organizations in the community that promote maturity of our children and the betterment of their futures.

“Upshur County’s the greatest place in the country/world to live, and Kiwanis just adds to that value of community spirit,” he added.

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