Kiwanians take thousands of meals to flooded Iowa town

Vicki Hermansen | Mar 31, 2019


VOLUNTEERS TAKE THOUSANDS OF MEALS TO FLOODED IOWA TOWNAbout 50 Kiwanians from two states fanned out across Hamburg, Iowa, offering a helping hand and delivering a sack lunch and bottled water as residents clean up from record flooding that left two-thirds of the town under water.

The volunteers were members of Kiwanis clubs in Atlantic, Red Oak and Clarinda, Iowa, and Lincoln Northeast and Bellevue-Offutt, Nebraska. The Kiwanis Club of Atlantic organized the relief effort after receiving a $5,000 disaster relief grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. Steve Green, club vice president, said his town was not affected by the flooding; Hamburg, he said, is experiencing a “huge disaster.”

“We started talking about what we could do to help, and we thought we could probably help five families clean up … but we thought if we made lunch and delivered it, we could help even more people,” Green said. Volunteers gathered at a church in Atlantic on March 29 and made 2,000 lunches. Club member Tony Schmidtke manages the Atlantic Fareway grocery store and gave the club a discount on food items, including ham and cheese for sandwiches, potato chips, granola bars and celery and carrot sticks.

VOLUNTEERS TAKE THOUSANDS OF MEALS TO FLOODED IOWA TOWNOn March 30, the clubs traveled to Hamburg in the southwest corner of Iowa.

“We had 50 volunteers, and I had my map with the streets marked off, for every volunteer. Everyone had a street,” he said.

Green said the Nishnabotna River runs near the town, but the Missouri River caused the massive flooding.

“Everything is farmland down there. It’s eight miles to the Missouri River, and it’s all under water. There’s a John Deere dealership in town and the flooding was so deep you couldn’t see the tops of the tractors. It’s the worst it’s ever been.”

The town has about 1,000 residents, and the club made about 2,000 lunches.

Clubs in the Kiwanis Nebraska-Iowa District have received a total of $35,000 in relief support over the past week. In addition to the Kiwanis Club of Atlantic, the following clubs each received a grant:

  • The Kiwanis Club of Glenwood, Iowa, will coordinate the distribution of food, bottled water, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies and toiletries with Mills County Department of Public Health.
  • Kiwanis Club of Bellevue, Nebraska, and the Bellevue West Key Club will provide relief to 302 students in the school district who have been affected by the flooding.
  • Kiwanis Club of Bellevue-Offutt will provide food vouchers, sleeping bags, cleaning supplies and toiletries to residents of the city. The club is working with counselors and social workers in the public schools to determine students’ needs when they return to school next week.
  • The Kiwanis Club of Fremont, Nebraska, will purchase emergency supplies, including bottled water, cleaning supplies, bedding and food. Working with the local United Way, the club learned of a need for milk; so, it bought a refrigerator and worked with Walmart to buy milk at 99 cents per gallon for the life of the grant.
  • The Kiwanis Club of Columbus, Nebraska, will provide residents of Schuyler, Duncan, Platte Center and nearby rural areas with bottled water, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
  • The Kiwanis Club of Ogallala Big Mac, Nebraska, to provide supplies for residents of Wood River and Dannebrog, where flood waters have forced people from their homes. The club will purchase cleaning supplies, toiletries, gloves, disinfectant wipes and other items, and, working with local churches and residents, will distribute supplies in five-gallon buckets.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have dedicated Kiwanians in the Nebraska-Iowa District of Kiwanis who are looking out for our kids and our communities by applying for these disaster grants,” said Bellevue-Offutt Kiwanian Jane Erickson, who is a former president of Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. “Steve (Green), a past lieutenant governor, and Elaine Armstrong, the current lieutenant governor, are prime examples of volunteers who go above and beyond to improve the world, one child and one community at a time. We know our neighbors in the Nebraska-Iowa District need our help, and we’re here for them.”

Kiwanis clubs often collaborate with emergency responders, churches, nonprofits and public health agencies to gather and distribute essential items after disasters such as flooding, hurricanes or tornadoes.

“Kiwanians are always some of the first to step up when disaster strikes,” said Julie Stanley, director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives at Kiwanis Children’s Fund. “It’s amazing how big their hearts are and how quickly they can coordinate projects to aid their community. Our grant program is designed to be swift and streamlined, allowing Kiwanis clubs to jump in immediately, just like these in Nebraska and Iowa.”

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund administers grants for disaster relief to provide almost immediate cash to help clubs and districts get supplies to people who are most in need. Each grant supports Kiwanis-led disaster relief efforts that address crucial, immediate needs of the affected community. Find more information about this program and how you can help at


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