Making a difference—one person at a time

Dec 23, 2013
Holiday Post

Need evidence that one person can make a difference? Think about the popular author Charles Dickens, whose novella, “A Christmas Carol,” is still being celebrated 170 years after it was written. Every year, that 1843 tale, which also has been adapted in plays and movies, inspires us to challenge our inner Scrooges.

So many of us identify with “A Christmas Carol” because our lives can get so hectic and the needs of others can seem so overwhelming, says Dickens expert Natalie McKnight of Boston University. Yet, especially during the holidays, we are inspired to make a difference.

In the spirit of that popular story, thousands of Kiwanis members regularly put aside their busy schedules to help others in need. Here are just a few ways Kiwanis and Kiwanis-family members are making a difference this holiday season.

Decorating the homes of senior citizens

Sparkling lights and decorations can do so much to lift our spirits during the holidays. But, for many elderly people, it’s challenging—and sometimes risky—to try to hang lights, wreaths and other trimmings. That’s why Key Club members at Tigard High School in Tigard, Oregon, set out to spread some joy by decorating the homes of senior citizens in their neighborhoods before Christmas. “It went really, really well,” Key Club Advisor Frank Caro says. “The homeowners seemed very happy.” Not only that, but the high school students also made commitments to take down the decorations after the holidays. 

Keeping children warm 

Wintry weather blew across the United States this season, making the gifts of coats even more meaningful. In Farmington, N.M., one grateful parent was moved to tears when the Rio del Sol Kiwanis Club members passed out new coats to hundreds of children and their family members. In South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the Kiwanis of Lake Tahoe organized a drive to donate coats to more than 600 students at Bijou Community Schools. With 85 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, the need was great. The children were so excited to receive their new jackets, said Bijou principal Cindy Martinez. Kiwanis club members say they hope to add boots to the donations in the future.

Playing Santa for families in need

Christmas can be filled with wondrous moments and, for children, that typically includes visits from Santa. Recognizing that, Warsaw’s Kiwanis club set out to help Santa by purchasing gifts that families can put under the tree for their kids. It’s a tradition that the New York-based club has been carrying out for more than 30 years. Vanessa McCormick, former Kiwanis President, says they try to fill a gap for families who need help but are reluctant to ask.

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