The Marion Noon Kiwanis Club has been making a difference in our community since 1921. President-elect Warren G. Harding was a founding member of the club in January of that year. For the past century, members have been working to make a difference in the lives of children in Marion and around the world.
This service club has a heart for youth. Through fundraisers including the annual Pancake Day coming up this month at Tri-Rivers Career Center and a golf outing in June, Kiwanis members raise money to support college scholarships to top local high school students. In the past decade, $31,425 in scholarships were awarded to 30 local students.
In addition, Kiwanis supports other children charities like the Junior Service Guild Christmas Clearinghouse, providing toys, foods, and gift cards to needy families. They sponsor the Explore-It-Torium Children’s Museum and “Cops and Kids” (formerly “Shop with a Cop”) to help kids and their families during the holidays.
The Marion Harding Key Club – a Kiwanis high school chapter that provides leadership and volunteer opportunities, is another important program they support. Funds also go to the Boys & Girls Club, the Marion Tallgrass Trails, Goodwill Industries, youth sports clubs and the My First Library Card program at the Marion Public Library.
Their fund-raiser— the Marion Pancake Day has been a tradition since 1959. Dean Jacob has been attending the Marion Noon Kiwanis annual pancake day since before he was born.
“My mother tells the story that she was overdue with me in her pregnancy, so she went to Pancake Day in 1961 and purposely overate — I was born a couple of days later!” Jacob recalls.
The club meets every Thursday from 11:30 a.m. at the Marion Public Library. During the lunch meeting, there is great networking, some friendly banter, and speakers who share exciting news in the Marion community. The meeting starts off with the singing of America, followed by the pledge of allegiance and a prayer. Members then share their good news and hear about positive efforts by local nonprofits, businesses, individuals, and agencies.
“I like learning more about the community. I always learn something new,” said Jennifer Alwood.
Amber Johnson joined because “I liked it. I felt they did good work and I wanted it to continue.”
Top students from every local high school come and speak to Marion Noon Kiwanis and share their passions, achievements, and successes. Mike Stuckey recalls being invited to attend Kiwanis in high school. As an adult, he became an active member.
“I’m completing the intended circle of civic engagement,” said Mike Stuckey. “While in high school, community mentors like Jim Burris took the time and energy to introduce me to the importance of charitable and civic organizations. Now, I am active in a similar way, introducing MTC students to the importance of community involvement.”
Ron Cramer has been an active member for more than 40 years. He recalls many club members having perfect attendance, with some doing that for 10, 20, and 40 years of membership. “There is an expectation that you will be there consistently. I enjoy being with other members,” Cramer said.
“You belong to something,” said Gareth Higgins, a past chapter president. “It’s a good group of people with similar mindsets. I enjoy the meetings and the camaraderie. The food is good, too!”
Kiwanians have touched thousands of lives of needy children in Marion. Members also volunteer around the community. The club has evolved as our community has changed, through the Great Depression, supporting members stationed abroad during World War II, writing letters on behalf of prisoners of war during Vietnam, to seeing local high school students able to pursue degrees locally at The Ohio State University at Marion and Marion Technical College. While the times change, the work to make an impact in the lives of local children remains the same.
For more information about the Marion Noon Kiwanis’ dedication to our community, they can be found on social media and their website is marionnoonkiwanis.com.