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Kiwanis makes a difference in flood zone

Vicki Hermansen | Apr 04, 2019

Kiwanis makes difference in flood zoneSteve Green has been a member of Kiwanis for 28 years, and a recent cold, damp Saturday was one of his most memorable days. His club, the Kiwanis Club of Atlantic, Iowa, and four other clubs from the Nebraska-Iowa District, traveled to Hamburg, Iowa, to distribute food and water. Hamburg residents have been under water for weeks due to record flooding.

“It was one of the most rewarding days I’ve ever had in Kiwanis,” Green said. “We were all there for one reason: to help. And that’s exactly what we did.”

Green’s club received a US$5,000 disaster relief grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and used it to buy and deliver food and water to the small town in southwestern Iowa. About 50 Kiwanis club members met in Hamburg and fanned out across the town, taking sack lunches and water to residents who were cleaning their homes and businesses.

“It was definitely an honor to be able to help pass out food and water and visit with some of the people in Hamburg,” said Sue Waldren, Nebraska-Iowa District governor. “I was extremely proud that more than 50 Kiwanians from five clubs in Iowa and Nebraska showed up on a very cold and blustery day to share Kiwanis love.”

She said the volunteers would return in the near future to provide more help.

Kiwanis makes difference in flood zone“We’re going back in a couple of weeks, and we’ll take what’s needed to them,” Green said. “The damage … it just boggles the mind. They are eight miles from the Missouri River, and there are still parts of town that are under 10 to 20 feet of water.”

Said Waldren, “It was heartbreaking to see the devastation. Very few houses in the town were spared. All of their household treasures were piled in front of their houses to be hauled away.”

Green’s club worked with a grocery store to purchase food to make sandwiches and packed the lunches the night before the delivery.  

“We thought we’d have 20 or 30 Kiwanis club members and others come to the church to help us, and we figured it would take us till about 9 p.m. to do this. Well, we had 80 people show up to help, and we packed, cleaned up and were done by 7 p.m.,” he said.

This effort has shown Green that people don’t have to pick among volunteer service, free time and other obligations. “A person doesn’t have to do one thing. You can make some time and do more,” he said.

“When one hurts we all hurt. When one needs help we all step up. That’s Kiwanis and the world needs Kiwanis now more than ever,” said Jane Erickson, a past president of Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. Erickson is a member of the Bellevue club and with her husband, Gus, helped with relief efforts in Hamburg.

The work hadn’t begun in Hamburg when residents were already overwhelmed with gratitude, Green said. “We gathered at the church, and we were talking to some club members, and then the caravan from Atlantic came in, we had eight vehicles come around that corner. The people of Hamburg just needed to know that somebody cared about them.”

Find out more about the Kiwanis Children’s Fund disaster relief grants here.

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