Kiwanis supports local nonprofits with thousands of meals

The Kiwanis Club of Temecula Valley donated 28,000 meals to local charitable organizations. From left to right, stand Kirk Howland of Oak Grove, Brandi Baezcolon of Southwest Boys & Girls Club, Gregory Kind, president of the Kiwanis Club, Michael McCracken, Marc Person of Veterans Supplemental Support Network and Linda Mejia from Jacob’s House. Paul Bandong photo
The Kiwanis Club of Temecula Valley donated 28,000 meals to local charitable organizations. From left to right, stand Kirk Howland of Oak Grove, Brandi Baezcolon of Southwest Boys & Girls Club, Gregory Kind, president of the Kiwanis Club, Michael McCracken, Marc Person of Veterans Supplemental Support Network and Linda Mejia from Jacob’s House. Paul Bandong photo

Kiwanis clubs serve their communities all year long; however, one day each year Kiwanis clubs around the world participate in a group day of service. The global effort consists of individual clubs and divisions performing local projects on the same day.

This year the Kiwanis Club of Temecula Valley, as part of Division 37 that include 19 clubs from Escondido to Oceanside to Temecula, participated in “Meals of Hope,” providing 28,000 pre-packaged meals in support of local organizations that serve the community’s needy.

“We chose these five organizations for their outstanding work in the Valley,” Gregory Kind, president of Kiwanis of Temecula Valley said. “Their work with children, homeless, needy families and veterans make Murrieta and Temecula a better place to live.”

The organizations chosen to receive the donations were Jacob’s House; Oak Grove Center for Education, Treatment & the Arts; Southwest Boys and Girls Club; Veterans Supplemental Support Network and Rancho Damacitas.

“When families come to us, it’s usually an emergency situation,” Linda Mehia, executive director for Jacob’s House, said. “These meals will allow us to provide visiting families with a quick meal.” Jacob’s House is a home of refuge for families with loved ones in hospitalized medical need.

The Southwest Boys & Girls Club in Murrieta serves 85 kids each day.

“For some kids, this is their only meal,” Unit Director Brandi Baezcolon said. “This will allow us to feed families that we otherwise couldn’t. Through our culinary arts program, we will teach the kids how to make the meals and then give them some to take home to prepare for their families.”

Kiwanis International has 650,000 members worldwide who donate 18.5 million volunteer hours. Division 37’s nineteen clubs had over 300 members participating in food distribution for this one day of service.

“These meals will allow us to help the families of at-risk children,” Mike Howland of Oak Grove Center said. Oak Grove is a nonprofit residential, educational and treatment center for children with psychological, emotional and behavioral problems and special needs.

“This is a great help in our efforts to fight hunger and hardship and prevent suicides for homeless veterans,” Marc Person, a community social worker with VSSN, said. “It’s always nice to know that people care, and this is a great way to show that.”

The Kiwanis Club of Temecula Valley sponsors nine high school Key Clubs, the most of any club in the nation.

“Our Key Club kids are the ones who packed all these meals,” Kind said. The club provides high school scholarships and participates in and supports numerous events in the area. Recently, they painted over 8,800 linear feet of fencing at the Veterans Park in Temecula.

Michael McCracken, former city councilman for Temecula, was on hand to help with the distribution, “It’s amazing to see how Kiwanis is supporting the organizations that support the community,” McCracken said.

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