Teaching kids about community service

Key Club an extension of parent group, Golden Ears Kiwani Club

The Key Club in Port Hope, Ont. gave John Cowan some of the best experiences of his teen years. He looks back on conventions he attended with 1,700 from across eastern Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and visiting the islands with the group.

“You can’t put a price on the experiences I had,” he says.

So the Golden Ears Kiwanis Club member brings a lot of enthusiasm to his role of sponsoring the first Key Club in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. It’s at Garibaldi secondary.

It is a young Key Club.

“I just got the charter in the mail,” he says.

And on Thursday it was visited by the Kiwanis governor for the district, at a dinner during which the club was to receive its charter.

He explains that Key clubs are like junior Kiwanis clubs – they introduce kids to the values of community betterment, charity work and public service. Key is an acronym for Kiwanis educates youth.

The Garibaldi club did a bake sale at Haney Place Mall in December, and raised $1,000 for breast cancer research.

Members have done a three-week clothing drive at the school, gathered “tons” of clothes and blankets and are now looking for ways to donate the proceeds to benefit homeless people.

“We might even go to East Vancouver and give them out ourselves,” said Cowan.

They cooked a pancake breakfast at Harry Hooge elementary for another fundraiser. They prepared flapjacks for 170 people, and the proceeds will help send kids to summer camp.

The club is an extension of the work of the parent group, the Golden Ears Kiwanis Club, which recently donated $25,000 to five local charities, including Meals on Wheels and the Friends in Need Food Bank.

The Garibaldi club has received a letter from a Key Club member who is fundraising for a trip to help build schools in Ecuador with the organization Free the Children.

Cowan’s doing as much as possible to help Sara Stanley cover the $4,900 she needs for the trip – she still needed $3,550 when she wrote.

Cowan immediately raised $420 by taking up a collection for her at a Kiwanis meeting, and is planning another fundraiser to cover another big chunk of her costs.

Cowan was 14 when he attended his first Key Club meeting. The group announced it would pay for a couple of members to attend a district convention in Ottawa. Cowan was a train enthusiast – that’s where his career took him, and the train ride to Ottawa was all the incentive he needed. But the convention was inspiring – literally life-changing for him.

On March 22-24, the Golden Ears Kiwanis Club will pay for five kids to attend a district convention in Seattle, where there will be hundreds of students from across a region extending from Alaska to California.


• Anyone interested in Key clubs or Kiwanis can contact Cowan at johnpcowan@shaw.ca. Those interested in donating for Sara Stanley’s trip can call 604-476-9220 or tstanley@shaw.ca.

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