When it comes to helping area youths, the Kiwanis Club of Mansfield leads in a big way.
Fifteen members comprise the only Kiwanis Club in the city, and they are a busy lot. If they aren’t working on a current project for youngsters, they are preparing for the next – and quite often they are doing both.
“Our mission mirrors the mission of Kiwanis International: to improve our community and the world one child at a time,” said Bobby Quinten, President of Kiwanis Club of Mansfield.
“Our singular focus on children’s learning, health, nutrition, and skill building is the differentiator between Kiwanis and other service clubs in town.”
Since 2006 the club has been founding partners for the Feed the Kids for Summer program in the city. They provide food funds, volunteers, and the Kiwanis logo bags for distribution.
So far this summer, the club has helped feed 800-850 kids each week. Each Kiwanis bag contains food for seven breakfasts, seven snacks, and seven lunches.
Their Jack Buster Memorial Book Project donates new library books to elementary schools. Jack Buster was a longtime Kiwanian who was passionate about child literacy. When he passed away in 2002, his family worked with Kiwanis Club of Mansfield to donate books in his memory to new elementary schools.
“We maintain that interest in child literacy to this day,” Quinten said.
In explaining the book donation program, Quinten continued, “The school librarian is allowed to choose which books they want. We deliver the books as a group, and then individually we choose a book to read to a class of students while we are there.”
Most recently, the club donated books to Brenda Norwood Elementary, a new MISD school.
Each book has a Jack Buster Memorial Book Project bookplate with the Kiwanis logo and a club member’s signature.
“We want students to read and learn and to enjoy reading,” he said.
Sponsoring Key Clubs & Scholarships
They also sponsor the Key Clubs in all six Mansfield ISD high schools, where students learn leadership and public service skills. And the club sponsors four scholarships each year.
The Key Clubs provide a framework where high school students learn community engagement, service, and leadership. Membership fluctuates from school to school and year to year, but the average Key Club has between 30 and 50 members. They conduct service projects in the community and hold fundraisers for worthwhile causes.
The past two Key Club presidents at Legacy High School also ended up being valedictorian of their class – and the 2022-23 Key Club president currently is No. 1 in her class.
“Key Clubs attract and grow leaders,” Quinten said.
Each of the four scholarships is $1,500 for students to use at the college of their choice. Students apply through the MISD Multi-Scholarship program. Kiwanis looks at GPA, their school experience, and their interests, with an understandable prioritization of Key Club members. After the club makes its picks, the Multi-Scholarship Committee makes the final decision.
Each month, Kiwanis recognizes a Teacher of the Month and a Student of the Month at a special breakfast.
And their newest project is honoring graduating seniors with special needs through personalized gift baskets. They provided seven personalized gift baskets to Legacy High School graduating seniors with special needs to celebrate their accomplishments. This will be ongoing and expanded to all five MISD high schools in 2023, Quinten said.
And if all of this seems like some sort of year-round Christmas for students, well, the club did just complete its Christmas in July Red Kettle Campaign for the Salvation Army recently.
“We’re waiting to hear the total raised by ringing the bell in the heat at Market Street Mansfield,” Quinten said with a smile.