Every Christmas season, youâ€™ll see the KiwanisÂ Club of Opelika at a different location around town, Santa hats on and ringing bells to raiseÂ money.
This year, the Kiwanis Club will be at the Samâ€™s Club onÂ Bent Creek Road on Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
â€œWe are committed to our local community and to thoseÂ organizations that have boots on the ground serving theÂ children of the community and their families,â€ is the motto ofÂ the Kiwanis Club of Opelika and the Salvation Army is justÂ one of several organizations that it partners with.
Other organizations include the United Way, EnvisionÂ Opelika, The Food Bank of East Alabama, The Boys and GirlsÂ Club of Greater Lee County, Alabama Rural Ministry, YouthÂ for Christ and more.
â€œWeâ€™re the club that has supported Salvation Army and theÂ things that it does for kids and people because our serviceÂ need is kids,â€ said Anthony Terling, president of the KiwanisÂ Club. â€œOur motto is serving the children of the world. Itâ€™sÂ literally our motto for Kiwanis. So, we usually just make thisÂ an annual service project that we can get our members out inÂ the community.
â€œItâ€™s one thing to support these nonprofits with fundingÂ and donations that we do, which is very important. But weÂ feel that kind of doing both,Â which is being seen in theÂ community, putting ourÂ hands in the pile, per se, isÂ very important.â€
The Kiwanis Club ofÂ Opelika has been around forÂ over 100 years, Terling said,Â and the bell ringing has beenÂ going on a long time.Â He, however, has only beenÂ in the role of president forÂ about two months.
â€œServant leadership hasÂ just been instilled in meÂ since I was young, whetherÂ my church, my family orÂ those that you usually callÂ the same thing. And then, itÂ makes it really easy, I workÂ for Auburn-Opelika TourismÂ and Iâ€™m looking at our coreÂ values right here and one ofÂ them is, â€˜practice servantÂ leadership.â€™
â€œSo for me, itâ€™s justÂ something Iâ€™ve been taught.Â But then, our companyÂ instills in us to go out inÂ our community, whetherÂ thatâ€™s Lee County, AuburnÂ or Opelika to serve thoseÂ kind of initiatives. And forÂ me, personally, kids haveÂ been a big thing in my life.Â I have a lot of, whether itâ€™sÂ nieces or nephews, but also,Â I have an older child who hasÂ a disability, so itâ€™s kind ofÂ a natural fit for me â€¦ ThisÂ clubâ€™s been in existence forÂ over 100 years and Iâ€™m justÂ trying to carry on that legacyÂ of serving Opelika and kidsÂ of Opelika.â€
Terling said that the bellÂ ringing with SalvationÂ Army provides for needs for children â€” toys, food andÂ social services.
â€œI think a lot of times whenÂ we think of the hungry, weÂ think of adults, we envision a face and we forget that there areÂ kids that are as vulnerable as anything in our society,â€ he said.
On Dec. 11, volunteers will take shifts. Those shifts wereÂ determined weeks ago by volunteer sign-up sheets.Â The bell ringing is also a great way to find new membersÂ and share information, Terling said.
â€œWhen you live in a community like Opelika and Auburn,Â youâ€™re going to see somebody that you know that then youÂ end up striking up a conversation with because they either A)Â didnâ€™t know you were a part [of] Kiwanis or they didnâ€™t knowÂ that you were doing ringing of the bell with Salvation Army,â€Â he said.
Last year the club had to contend more heavily withÂ COVID-19, Terling said. This year, the club wants to raiseÂ funds, but also promote safety.
Anyone who is interested in joining Kiwanis can findÂ more information or the values behind Kiwanis at www.Â opelikakiwanis.org.
â€œWe are always looking to grow our members,â€ TerlingÂ said. â€œSo we would love, whether itâ€™s somebody just lookingÂ to get involved and give back, or if they want to do it as a partÂ of their company or their business. It doesnâ€™t matter whereÂ you come from or what you do, we welcome all and want toÂ keep growing so we can keep giving back.â€