By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
The local Kiwanis International met at the First State Bank conference center Tuesday for a luncheon honoring outgoing Kiwanis Texas-Oklahoma District 8 governor Ann Wilkins of Tahlequa, Okla. and other distinguished guests. Wilkins, introduced by Gainesville resident Johnny Leftwich, presided over the induction of new members present and spoke of what the past year had meant to her.
“The tornado disasters in southern Oklahoma made the biggest impact on me this past year,” she said.
“To see the devastation was heart breaking but I was so proud to see Kiwanis clubs gather resources and respond to those in need,” she continued.
Besides delivering meals and supplies to the folks needing assistance in the tornado devastated areas, Kiwanis prepared several hundred individual backpacks to distribute to people living in the damaged areas of Prague, Okla.; Shawnee, Okla.; Little Axe, Okla. and Moore, Okla. Additional items collected and distributed included cleaning supplies and items for pets.
Robin Meyer, chairperson of disaster relief for this Kiwanis district described the contents of the individual backpacks.
Meyer said, “The backpacks, divided by age and by gender, contain toilet items notebooks, pens, crayons and art supplies for kids. The kids need some fun things to give them something to do and hold on to when they have lost so much.”
Wilson also spoke on continuing to work on increasing membership for Kiwanis to expand their capabilities.
“We will work to increase membership in the Kiwanis clubs,” she said. “We want to encourage students to participate by becoming a member of Circle K and Key clubs. Kiwanis will not be able to grow without them, and we are taking steps to show them what we do and the opportunities only Kiwanis can offer.”
Kiwanis membership is open to anyone 18 or older. Ancillary clubs include Circle K for college students, Key clubs in high schools, Builders in middle schools, K-Kids for elementary students and Akion for special needs children. Seniors can also join Golden K clubs.
This past year, the Gainesville Kiwanis inducted 13 new members bringing the total of local membership to 58.
Officers are: Maggie Sykes-president, Mary Lou Leftwich-president elect, Brenda Hardcastle-vice president, John Noblitt-immediate past president, Patrick McCage-secretary and Ned Newman-treasurer.
Gainesville Kiwanis president Maggie Sykes presented a Medal of Honor shirt to Wilson as a memento of her visit to Gainesville. Sykes also introduced Governor Elect of Division 8 Bill Rauhauser of Robson Ranch who will be replacing Wilson in October..
In her closing comments Wilson said, “Our members serve our community and help our children in many ways. It is what we do. We just follow our hearts.”