Special to the Journal
A longtime service club in Belton will be closing on May 31, 2023, as announced by Rhonda Hershey, President of the Kiwanis Club of Belton.
“We have struggled for a while to get new members to help with the wonderful projects we do, but our numbers have dwindled to the point we can no longer effectively continue our mission to ‘serve the children of the world,’” said Hershey.
Hershey recounted the multiple projects the club has worked on and the number of organizations with which Kiwanis has partnered, such as Project Apple Tree, Project Angel Tree, and various other ministries of Helping Hands, as well as Christmas on the Farm and other Aware Central Texas projects. Likewise, the club applied for, and received, a Kiwanis International grant to equip a science lab at a remote school in India, as well as helped support the founding of Shilong Children’s Home where children from remote villages without schools could live while getting an education.
Globally, Kiwanis partnered with UNICEF’s Eliminate Maternal, Neo-Natal Tetanus (EMT) program administering vaccinations for women in 3rd world countries with high infant mortality rates due to contracting tetanus during birth from unclean environments. Altogether, the club’s donations enabled more than 2,500 women to be vaccinated.
Locally, Kiwanis of Belton sponsored Service Leadership Programs in elementary, middle schools, high schools, and colleges, with two elementary, one middle school, two high schools and one college program.
The club awarded its first Citizenship Award to a fifth grade student at Miller Heights Elementary School, and eventually branched out to every elementary and every middle school campus in the Belton Independent School District.
Best known for its annual Turtle Festival, the club provided a day of fun at Yettie Polk Park with free activities, entertainment from various community and school groups, food vendors, and more.
The day also included 2,000 rubber turtles dumped into Nolan Creek, which then “raced” to the finish line. Prior to the race, the numbered turtles were “adopted” by individuals and the adopter of the fastest turtle received a prize of $1,000.
“Thank you to all who have supported the club, our projects, and cheered us on. It means so much to know our efforts are appreciated,” said Hershey,