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For The Children
Service Club Continues To Delight Area Youth
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One only need look to the varying community projects supported by the Kiwanis Club of Oakdale to understand its mission. First formed locally in 1954, the Oakdale club will celebrate 55 years of serving the community later this year.
The mission statement of Kiwanis International reads, “Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one community and one child at a time.”
Echoing this mission on a local level, Club President Dick Brown said, “Whatever need comes up we want to help the children in the community.”
Donations to the Children’s Crisis Center, Community Sharing, the Ministerial Association, local elementary schools, as well as three $1,000 high school scholarships are a few of the group’s ongoing projects.
Through its 55 years in Oakdale the club has learned to successfully unite with the city to continue traditions that have transcended the generations of area youth. For over 25 years the group has been a key partner in the Annual Halloween Parade. Three short years ago the club teamed with the City of Oakdale Parks and Recreation Department and started the Kids Fest and Safety Day conducted at Kerr Park.
“It was all Dick,” Recreation Supervisor Linda Royalty said of the city’s partnership with the group.
Brown shared that he felt the city was lacking a youth-based event for the spring and felt an Easter Egg Hunt would be ideal. Kerr Park, he added, was also ideal, equipped with fenced baseball diamonds and a large picnic area for activities.
“I’ve been bugging everyone for years as to why we don’t have an Easter activity,” he said.
And while he admits to being more inclined to call it an ‘Easter Egg Hunt,’ he is accepting of the city’s non-religious based naming of the ‘Kids Spring Fest and Safety Day.’
“I’m just thrilled to death that we have something at this time of the year for the kids,” he said. “Because it’s for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”
The group estimates that close to 3,000 community members gathered for the egg hunting portion of last year’s event and the club served over 1200 hot dogs to the families and children who remained for the Festival and Safety portion of the day.
This year’s event will be hosted on Saturday, April 4 at Kerr Park at the East end of town on Stearns Road, past the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. (See advertisement on page C9 of this week’s issue for a list of specific events and egg hunt times.)
The Kiwanis members plan to barbecue close to 1500 hot dogs, and will serve them with water and chips for all the hungry hunters. A number of booths focusing on safety will also be featured, including Regional 911 and CAPS members offering fingerprinting services. The Easter Bunny will also be on hand for photo opportunities with attendees.
Just days before the outfields of Kerr Park are sprinkled with brightly colored eggs, the group’s main concern is that people are aware of its date and time. With Oakdale’s Rodeo Weekend falling the same weekend as Easter this year, the group felt it necessary to host the event one week early.
“We’d be competing with the (rodeo) parade,” Royalty stated of the Saturday prior to the holiday, adding that both events rely on the same resources for safety and crowd control, which would have created a challenge for both groups.
Years after he began with the Kiwanis Club, Brown cited giving as the most rewarding part of the group’s involvement with area youth.
“The smile on the kids’ faces,” he said of what enjoys. “The giving part.”
Fellow member Monte Adams also enjoys the positive feedback from the community.
“The community spirit,” Adams said, “is really what I get back from it.”
Royalty noted that while the group has formed the partnership with the City of Oakdale to continue the egg hunt and Halloween Parade, they also pay for a lot of the expenses incurred by the events.
For the past 16 years the group’s main fundraising event has been a Golf Tournament hosted at La Contenta Golf Course. This year’s event is planned for Sept. 26.
Members indicated with a turning economy they were skeptical prior to their 2008 tournament, yet people showed up and money was raised.
“We’ll still have it,” Brown said of the coming event. “The way I see it, if we make one dollar, it’s one more dollar than we had.”
Another project recently taken on by the club was the ‘adoption’ of Gilbert Park, much like the volunteer Adopt-a-Highway program. Royalty shared that the Park Adoption program is fairly new, but is extremely helpful to the park staff.
“It’s a new thing for us, but we will do it on a weekly basis,” Brown said of the group’s participation with general cleaning and maintenance of the park.
With budgets tightening and schools hurting, Brown shared the group would also be interested in partnering with other groups to aid the schools by providing some supplies.
“We can’t be all things to all people,” he stated. “But it would be kind of nice if we could find a way to help the schools in the means of supplies.”
“Partnership is important,” Adams added. “The partnerships work well.”
For evidence of this, look no further than G Street and the Community Center during the annual Halloween Parade or the fields at Kerr Park during the Kids Spring Fest. The partnerships work; families can enjoy activities together in a safe, fun environment.
These are two notable occasions when service clubs, youth organizations, Public Safety service members and volunteers set aside space on their calendar to make for meaningful memories for local youth.
For information on becoming a Kiwanis Club of Oakdale member, contact Dick Brown at 848-1205 or visit