Every Christmas season, you’ll see the Kiwanis Club of Opelika at a different location around town, Santa hats on and ringing bells to raise money.
This year, the Kiwanis Club will be at the Sam’s Club on Bent Creek Road on Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We are committed to our local community and to those organizations that have boots on the ground serving the children of the community and their families,” is the motto of the Kiwanis Club of Opelika and the Salvation Army is just one of several organizations that it partners with.
Other organizations include the United Way, Envision Opelika, The Food Bank of East Alabama, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County, Alabama Rural Ministry, Youth for Christ and more.
“We’re the club that has supported Salvation Army and the things that it does for kids and people because our service need is kids,” said Anthony Terling, president of the Kiwanis Club. “Our motto is serving the children of the world. It’s literally our motto for Kiwanis. So, we usually just make this an annual service project that we can get our members out in the community.
“It’s one thing to support these nonprofits with funding and donations that we do, which is very important. But we feel that kind of doing both, which is being seen in the community, putting our hands in the pile, per se, is very important.”
The Kiwanis Club of Opelika has been around for over 100 years, Terling said, and the bell ringing has been going on a long time. He, however, has only been in the role of president for about two months.
“Servant leadership has just been instilled in me since I was young, whether my church, my family or those that you usually call the same thing. And then, it makes it really easy, I work for Auburn-Opelika Tourism and I’m looking at our core values right here and one of them is, ‘practice servant leadership.’
“So for me, it’s just something I’ve been taught. But then, our company instills in us to go out in our community, whether that’s Lee County, Auburn or Opelika to serve those kind of initiatives. And for me, personally, kids have been a big thing in my life. I have a lot of, whether it’s nieces or nephews, but also, I have an older child who has a disability, so it’s kind of a natural fit for me … This club’s been in existence for over 100 years and I’m just trying to carry on that legacy of serving Opelika and kids of Opelika.”
Terling said that the bell ringing with Salvation Army provides for needs for children — toys, food and social services.
“I think a lot of times when we think of the hungry, we think of adults, we envision a face and we forget that there are kids that are as vulnerable as anything in our society,” he said.
On Dec. 11, volunteers will take shifts. Those shifts were determined weeks ago by volunteer sign-up sheets. The bell ringing is also a great way to find new members and share information, Terling said.
“When you live in a community like Opelika and Auburn, you’re going to see somebody that you know that then you end up striking up a conversation with because they either A) didn’t know you were a part [of] Kiwanis or they didn’t know that you were doing ringing of the bell with Salvation Army,” he said.
Last year the club had to contend more heavily with COVID-19, Terling said. This year, the club wants to raise funds, but also promote safety.
Anyone who is interested in joining Kiwanis can find more information or the values behind Kiwanis at www. opelikakiwanis.org.
“We are always looking to grow our members,” Terling said. “So we would love, whether it’s somebody just looking to get involved and give back, or if they want to do it as a part of their company or their business. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do, we welcome all and want to keep growing so we can keep giving back.”