The Kiwanis Seventh Annual White Christmas fund raising effort to provide underwear to foster children, and other needy groups of children in the community is kicking off early this year. The program, an annual effort by the Kiwanis Club, will begin Oct. 27, 28, and 29 at Wal-Mart.
The program was initiated in 2000 by former Kiwanis President Jim Rivers and Kiwanis Treasurer Diane Purvis in recognition of a need to assist small children between the ages of 3-15 in a rather unique way. The effort received further impetus when the Department of Family and Children Services revealed that when children are removed from homes, they most often have no underwear.
"It is just one of those items that you don't think about, but which are essential," Mrs. Purvis said.
The club drive seeks donations of new socks, panties, boy's briefs and boxers, gloves, stocking caps, t-shirts, tooth brushes and toothpaste. The goal is to provide each child with at least one week's supply of underwear.
Since beginning, the drive has expanded into the collection of other small items which young children might also enjoy rather than just need. These items include crayons, coloring books, and stuffed animals. These items are added to the underwear bags to give the children something a little extra special for the holiday.
The Kiwanis Club is a service club that focuses primarily on providing services to children, and the Thomson club has other projects during the course of the year aimed at assisting children. These include the distribution of dictionaries to middle school children, reading to small children and serving as mentors in some instances.
Past efforts have resulted in 150 to 180 gift bags being distributed each year to needy children.
The Kiwanis Club works with the Department of Family and Children Services, the Housing Authority and other agencies to identify only needy children. The bags are delivered to the families just before the Christmas holiday.
Teams of Kiwanis Club members will be in front of Wal-Mart on Friday, Oct. 27, Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 to accept donations of goods or of cash for the purchase of the these items. Residents may also contact any Kiwanis Club member.
In addition, collection bags will be located around Thomson through the month of November.