SOUTH FORK- With Christmas only days away, the South Fork Kiwanis branch headed out across the Valley and provided parties and small gifts for over 400 children. The organization has done this for several years, bringing Christmas cheer to children throughout the region and it is all thanks to the generous donations collected through the Brisket and Thanksgiving Day dinners.
“The children have an opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. It is one of the best things in the world to be a part of. They ask silly questions like wanting to know where the reindeer are and what the North Pole is like. Our Santa does a wonderful job and absolutely loves helping provide some fun for the children,” said Kiwanis member Karen Miller.
The children also receive books and small treats that were provided through donations collected throughout the year. The South Fork Kiwanis are very active in the area and host some of the largest and most anticipated events in the region.
This year the Thanksgiving Dinner was beyond successful, bringing community members from across the Valley to share a meal and neighborly friendship. The organization and volunteers provided a full course Thanksgiving Day meal with desserts and beverages for free and feeds hundreds of people each year. “It is a lot to prepare for, but it is so worth it in the end. We need more members and volunteers every year, but somehow every year they show up and help. It is a great thing,” said Miller.
The group also provides hygiene kits for migrant workers during the summer season. Migrant workers make up a large portion of the population in the Valley during summer months. During planting and harvest times the population rises with people coming from all over the U.S. to aid in the agricultural work available. Most of these workers come here to stay for short periods of time and with very little personal belongings. Several organizations around the Valley dedicate their time and effort into helping the workers and their families.
Over the past several years, the South Fork Kiwanis branch has helped by providing small hygiene kits to workers and their families. The kits are prepared by the organization and then delivered to the Center Food Bank where they are handed out with food and clothes for a small donation if it can be afforded. The kits include toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo and a brush.
The project began as an attempt to offer a valleywide food bank that did not receive the desired response. After some consideration, long time Kiwanis member Tom Faris suggested making hygiene kits. The idea took off and has been very successful over the last six years since the project’s inception. The group was surprised with the number of participants this season and plan to increase the number of kits for next year. Kiwanis would like to thank Faris for his help and dedication.
The Christmas parties were a huge success and every child that was able to participate was able to share in some holiday joy, especially those who may not have had a Christmas otherwise. Miller also sends her gratitude to those who donated throughout the year and is already planning for next year’s events and celebrations.