Niles Kiwanis Club seeking new members

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, March 27, 2019

NILES — From distributing scholarships to local youth to helping supply school districts with winter boots for their students, the Kiwanis Club has sought to offer various forms of support to their community.

For the last few years, however, John Grinnell, treasurer of the club, said membership numbers have been shrinking, lessening the number of projects the club can tackle. There are only 12 members in the Kiwanis club today. Grinnell said they are in dire need of members.

“We are looking for people who want to be part of the Kiwanis Club and help make a difference in the community,” Grinnell said. “We are having trouble with not enough people to do fundraising activities. We just don’t have the manpower to help raise funds to do our projects.”

Grinnell founded the Niles Kiwanis Club in 2003. He said the goal of the organization was to help youth in the Niles, Buchanan and Brandywine communities. The club does a number of things to better their community, but has a couple of primary projects. One of those efforts is distributing college scholarships to the Brandywine and Niles Key Club members. The Key Club is a youth version of the Kiwanis Club and Grinnell serves as the Brandywine Key Club’s advisor. He said it is great to see youth involved in a cause that seeks to better their community.

The club also raises money to help provide winter boots to children in the Niles, Buchanan and Brandywine districts. Grinnell said they provide around 100 pairs of boots to the children each year. During the Christmas season, the club also helps to ring bells for the Niles Salvation Army’s seasonal fundraiser.

For many years, Grinnell said a lot of local service organizations have experienced a decline in members and he said he does not know why. Grinnell encouraged anyone with an interest in helping their community, especially the younger generation to sign up for the club.

Grinnell said he wants to see the club grow and develop new projects that will help the club do that. For those who do take part, he said there are many rewards to being involved.

“The benefit is you have good fellowship and a good time with people there,” Grinnell said. “[And it’s about] just giving back to your community and not focusing so much on yourself.”

The Kiwanis Club meets for lunch once a week at noon Thursday at the Hob Nob, 1109 S. 11th St. in Niles. However, Grinnell said those who want to participate but do not have time for lunch can still be part of the club. The cost for dues is $120 a year.

Those interested in signing up can contact Grinnell at (269) 684-2851.

“We don’t want service clubs to be extinct,” Grinnell said.