Alamo Kiwanis Club Brings Holiday Cheer to Local Children

Nothing represents the holiday season more so than the iconic image of a child’s wide-eyed excitement as they eagerly tear through ribbons and bows, layers of white tissues and decorative wrapping paper to reveal the gift given to them by some caring adult.

For volunteers at The Children’s Shelter, this priceless moment is oftentimes bittersweet as these children are temporarily away from families not able to care for them. This is where local service organizations like the Alamo Kiwanis Club play such a vital role.

“Service is at the heart of our club,” said Heather Akkerman, the new Executive Director of the Alamo Kiwanis Club, which has served the local community for 65 years.

For many years, the Kiwanians have been bringing holiday cheer to hundreds of local children at the shelter through their annual Christmas party which is scheduled for December 12 this year.

“The annual Christmas party at the shelter has been a long-standing tradition for our members and is an opportunity for them to see up close the impact they have had on the children we support,” Akkerman said.

Annette Rodriguez, President and CEO of The Children’s Shelter, would agree.

“There is nothing that represents the spirit of Christmas more than the annual Christmas lunches the Alamo Kiwanis Club hosts with the children at The Children’s Shelter,” she said.

“Armed with gifts for all of the children, the Kiwanians sit and share a meal, smiles and laughs with the kids. More importantly, their presence on that day tells our children that they matter, that they are not forgotten.”

One sweet example is Briana, age 8. Last year, Briana opened her gift to find a necklace and charm bracelet and said it was “the most beautiful thing” she had ever received. For the next several weeks, Briana wore her necklace and bracelet every day.

The Children’s Shelter Local Impact

Since 1901, the mission of The Children’s Shelter has been to provide hope and healing for abused, abandoned, and neglected children in San Antonio and Bexar County. The agency provides programs and interventions rooted in research to 3,000 children and parents annually.

This year alone, The Children’s Shelter served over 500 children in their Emergency Shelter and over 70 children were provided trauma-focused care at the KCI Residential Treatment Center.

In their Foster Care Program, almost 300 children were provided a safe home and 30 adoptions were facilitated in their Adoption Program.

Additionally, they have the Compadre y Compadre program for fathers and the Nurse-Family Partnership program for first-time, low-income mothers; over 500 parents and 240 children utilized the iParent® SA program; and over 150 teen mothers and 100 of their children participated in the Project Mothers And Schools (MAS) program.

A Partnership Rooted in Common Goals

Members of the Alamo Kiwanis Club have a long history with The Children Shelter since the two organizations share common goals – serving children in need. Since its inception in 1947, the Alamo Kiwanis Club has focused its time, energy and resources in support of the shelter, along with many other local children’s charities, and plans to continue to do good works for the needy children in this community.

“The relationship between the Alamo Kiwanis Club and the Children’s Shelter is a very special partnership that has been nurtured and developed over the years,” said Akkerman. “New members are taught the history, tradition and integrity of the Kiwanis commitment to the shelter.”

Financial and other forms of support over the years have ranged from purchasing a phone system and laundry equipment, to Kiwanians rolling up their sleeves and helping paint and repair old buildings and fences.

In addition to the financial contributions made to the shelter, many special events were initiated and are still in place. An Easter Egg Hunt has been held many times for Easter. A Christmas party has been held annually for many years at the shelter where members bring gifts and spend time with the children.

On many occasions children have been accompanied to the circus, the zoo, the rodeo and parades with cheerful, interested and helpful members volunteering as a guide and friendly supporter.

In keeping with the objectives of Kiwanis International, the club’s main focus has been to raise monies for local children’s charities. This has been accomplished through its two annual fundraisers: The Western & Heritage Art Show in January and Fiesta Noche del Rio in the summer months.

The upcoming 2014 Western & Heritage Art Show is in its 51st season and will be held Friday, January 17, 2014 at Pearl Studio at the Full Goods Breezeway. The event is a wonderful way to kick off the rodeo season. It is an evening of beautiful original art, sculptures and handcrafted jewelry for sale, along with catering by Don Strange, a casino party with great prizes, a full bar selection, and live music. The theme of “Great Art for a Great Cause” continues for this year as a portion of its proceeds will be donated to the various charities supported by the Alamo Kiwanis Club. For sponsorship opportunities, ticket information, or to learn more about the event, visit www.kiwanisartshow.com.

For over 50 years from these two major events, the Kiwanians have raised more than $2.75 million for local children charities, such as Any Baby Can, Respite Care of San Antonio, YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, The Children’s Bereavement Center and The Children’s Shelter, to name a few.

Close to 100 members strong, the Alamo Kiwanis Club is the largest in the area and last year awarded more than $150,000 to dozens of charities benefitting kids in San Antonio.

“Kiwanians give their time to make their communities better places in which to live and work,” said Akkerman.

“As members, they have opportunities to make business and professional contacts, learn about issues relevant to their community and world, develop their leadership skills, and form life-long friendships.”

Join the Alamo Kiwanis Club:

The Alamo Kiwanis Club meets weekly to conduct club business, catch up on each other’s news, and enjoy invited guest speakers and programs. Membership in the Alamo Kiwanis Club requires individuals with the time, talent and means to give back to the club and to the community in which we live and serve. More specifically, the club desires business, professional and high ideal minded individuals to fulfill its mission statement: “To raise money for children in need.”

For more information about membership, visit us online at www.alamo-kiwanis.org or contact Heather Akkerman at 210.226.4651 or akc@alamo-kiwanis.org.