Sat07262014

Kiwanis Club of Los Altos ups its goals of providing more service to needy residents


Kiwanis Club of Los Altos members support the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto by purchasing turkeys for the program to deliver to families in need.

The Kiwanis Club of Los Altos recently kicked off its 67th year of serving the community with a new president at the helm.

Charmaine Turbow took the reins as president and outlined her goals for the club.

“The rat race has trapped most of us into checking our smartphones every two minutes and honking our horns at each other to hurry up,” she said. “Service shouldn’t be defined by the sick or poor, or designed by the holidays when we see signs to give back. I truly think it’s important to give back year-round, and that’s why I think our service club is one of the best around.”

The club sponsors a number of annual events, including the Kiwanis Pet Parade and the Kiwanis Special Games for challenged students in Santa Clara County.

In addition to its traditional mainstays, the club launched new projects this year, including harvesting apples from Turbow’s Los Altos Hills backyard and donating the bounty to the Community Services Agency.

“This was my very first service project with the Los Altos Kiwanis group,” said new member Stephanie Schmitz of the apple-picking party. “I had so much fun bonding with the members and picking apples as a team. It reminded me of living in Ohio and going into the apple orchards to pick apples with my family. It felt great knowing that such a fun project could actually be so beneficial and rewarding.”

Turbow plans to replace one of the club’s weekly meetings each month with a service project.

“Service projects can be as simple as refurbishing picnic tables for kids or picking up trash in a park,” she said. “My leadership this year runs on the sole premise, ‘If we call ourselves a service organization, then we better well get our hands dirty and serve our community.’”

Earlier this month, members enjoyed a bag lunch and pitched in at the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto, restocking food shelves and boxing vegetables and fruit for those in need.

“It was amazing how much we accomplished in just one hour with the large group of volunteers we had participating,” said club member Bob Galen. “We had fun but remained focused on our assignments. It felt great to know that we were able to lighten the load of the employees at the Ecumenical Hunger Program so that they could concentrate on other tasks.”

Members gathered last week at the Safeway on San Antonio Road to purchase more than 150 turkeys to deliver to the Ecumenical Hunger Program for distribution to families in need for Thanksgiving.

The club plans to partner with The Makery in downtown Los Altos next month to make holiday cards for patients at El Camino Hospital.

“I love how much we give back to our community,” Turbow said. “We are truly a club that is small and mighty. But we can’t do it without members. So if there is even a cell within you, a bug that says, ‘I want to give back,’ I urge you to come join us in a service project.”

Four new members have joined the club in the past few months. The club meets noon Tuesdays for lunch at the Kiwanis Club House, 4546 El Camino Real, Suite B-4, Los Altos. Anyone interested in joining is invited to attend.

For more information, visit losaltoskiwanis.org.

Traci Newell is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos.

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