The Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee has come a long way since it was first chartered 30 years ago.
Members have raised thousands of dollars over the years for local and far-reaching causes. The money and the countless man hours that have been volunteered are for one purpose, members say, and that is to help children in need.
The club that is known for having its hand in many local events and fundraisers, like the annual Ahwatukee Easter Parade, celebrated its 30th anniversary on Thursday night at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Past and present members, including John McComish, gathered to share their experiences in working with the organization. Each member reiterated what Kiwanis is all about.
"It's all about children," president Carl Anderson said. "The goal is to bring in people to Kiwanis who care about the community and children in the community."
Events like the annual bike drive, organized by members Andi and Robin "Santa" Pettijohn, which brought in approximately 170 bikes for children in need last year, have become a staple of the local organization.
In addition to collecting and donating goods, Kiwanis has worked closely with the Key Clubs at Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe high schools and Circle K International at Arizona State University to build a culture of community service from the ground up.
"There are two things that come to mind about Kiwanis," said McComish, who was a member for 10 years before being elected to the state Legislature. "The first is service, and the other is fellowship. This is a group of people helping people."
Several charter members were in attendance for the event, including Dan Schneider, who has been active since they were charted by the Tempe Nuevo Club 30 years ago. He moved to the area in 1980, and served as pastor as Mountain View Luther Church until 1996.
"The first years were a struggle to keep members," he said. "It's been a revolving door, people come and go. But I am a believer that you want to give back to the community, and that is what makes Kiwanis successful."
More than 50 people showed up for the anniversary dinner on Thursday. The club, which has about 23 active members, will continue to contribute to the community, Anderson said, and hopefully run for at least another 30 years.
"This club is a collaborative effort, it doesn't work otherwise," he said.
To find out more about the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee, visit www.ahwatukeekiwanis.org.
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