As a result of the funds generated from the Wilderness Trail Festival, the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg has been able to increase the support of the youth of Christiansburg, especially the less privileged. Since taking over the Festival, the Club has been able to establish two new programs at Belview Elementary, Christiansburg Elementary, Christiansburg Primary, & Falling Branch Schools.
First, working with Wal-Mart, a Clothe a Child Program was established with the schools. This program provides funds which allow the administration to purchase clothes for children who come to school without needed clothing such as winter shoes, socks, coats, underwear, etc.
Next, after the state budget cut back funds for needed school supplies, the Kiwanis Club got with the administration of the same four schools and developed the School Supplies Program which provides funds to purchase supplies for children who don't have money to purchase them. Also, Wal-Mart supports this program.
This is the sixth year that the Festival has been managed by the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg. This has become the major fund raising event for the Club. All the funds generated go back into the community, mostly to support needy youth activities. None goes to the membership; the members pay dues to cover the administrative costs incurred by the Club. In the two newly introduced school programs for needy children we have donated $4,500 already this year. At the annual Children's Christmas Party we provide a pizza dinner, toys, and clothing for around 45 children whose names are provided by the teachers from the same four schools. Without our support many of these children would receive little or nothing for Christmas. With the member contributions, the Club spends around $8,000 each year for this event. Our service account budget for 2011 totals over $28,000 and most all goes to programs directed toward our youth in Christiansburg.
2013 was the 40th anniversary of the Wilderness Trail Festival. Last year the attendance was estimated to be between 7,500 and 10,000. The vendor participation has grown by more than 20% since the Kiwanis Club began operation four years ago.
Located off Roanoke Street, behind Southern States, Kiwanis Park was developed and is partially maintained by the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg. This popular park has two lighted multi-purpose baseball/softball fields, a picnic shelter, and new Miracle Playsystem playground equipment which was funded by Kiwanis.
Each year, the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg selects three Christiansburg High School Seniors to award $1,000 scholarships.
Local schools see children arrive at school in clothing that is not appropriate for the climate or in clothing that is well worn. In many cases, these children's parents are unable to provide adequate clothing for them. To help resolve this issue, the Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg works with a committee at each of the six Christiansburg schools who selects children who are in need of clothing. The schools are given a debit card to purchase clothing for the selected children. Not only does this help with protecting the children from the climate but also from the lack of confidence that comes along with arriving to school in insufficient or torn clothing. This program is also provided to the Head Start Program.
This party is for over 40 local children whose families may not be able to give their children what they need and want for Christmas. Children are selected with the help of the local schools. Each child is asked to complete their Christmas wish list. Parents are asked to complete a clothing wish list for their child. The Kiwanis Club uses the funds from sponsorships and other various fundraisers to purchase the toys. Each Kiwanis member chooses a child to purchase the clothes for on their own. The children are invited to the Christmas party along with their parents for dinner. Santa arrives, calls each child to the front, and gives them their wrapped presents. The children also enjoy participating in Christmas carols throughout the evening.
If a child is coming to school needing clothing, most likely that child is going to be without the proper supplies for the school year. The Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg gives debit cards to the six Christiansburg schools to help these children with needed supplies.
We in the Christiansburg Kiwanis Club see as part of our mission to serve young children in the areas of health, safety, and education. Several years ago, a need in the areas of health and education came to our attention. Studies have shown that many children are at risk with diets that are irregular, unsupervised, or generally lacking in good nutritional content. This, in turn, can increase their risk of developing health related problems such as obesity and diabetes, lead to behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder, and adversely affect their learning ability. Studies have also shown that dietary nutrients are not only important for health, but can significantly influence the way children think and feel. Children who consume healthy foods are better students, concentrate better, retain more information, and perform better on tests.
The educational system in Montgomery County does a very good job of providing balanced, nutritional meals to children during the school day. However, many children do not get that same balanced diet on the weekends. The Christiansburg Kiwanis Club has initiated a program called the Backpack Program that provides nutritional supplements to children's diets (snacks) on the weekends. The goals of this program are to enhance the child's learning ability, reduce behavioral problems, help improve the child's health, and educate the family to the benefits and importance of good nutrition.
We have initiated this program in cooperation with Community Action Head Start. They typically have 40 preschool children (ages 3, 4, and 5) in their program. A letter is sent to each family briefly explaining the program. Those wishing to participate are required to attend a meeting where the goals benefits, and importance of good nutrition are reviewed and details of the program developed. Each child is assigned a numbered backpack that he/she would pick up after school on Fridays containing the nutritious snacks and then return it, empty, on Monday morning to the school. The program is continuously monitored as to its effectiveness in reaching its goals.
The Christiansburg Kiwanis Club is financing this program with various Club fundraisers, solicitations for donations of dollars, and solicitations for donations of healthy snack foods. Wal-Mart and Kroger have jumped at the opportunity to help with this program and we hope to get more companies involved as well.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Leisure Direction, CHS Cheerleaders, CHS After Prom Program, CHS Boys and Girls State, Ignite, Special needs recreation department requests, and other requests approved by the Club.
or by mail:
Kiwanis Club of Christiansburg
P.O. Box 313
Christiansburg, VA 24068