Kiwanis Club of Beaufort members reflect on 30 years of serving community

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMarch 22, 2013 

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    Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to members of the Kiwanis Club of Beaufort for sharing the story of its 30th anniversary.

The club that meets at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday at the Golden Corral says its 36 members each invest about six hours a month in meetings, projects and volunteering in the community.

Three of its original members still are in the club: Robert Bundy, John Harris and Bob Hartzog. Other early members who still are in the club include Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen and Dr. Chip Floyd.

John Harris was the first president, and today his son, Patrick Harris, is president. Dan Denton was the second president, and Bundy was the third. They met in the Holiday Inn on Boundary Street, now a Quality Inn. It's always been a breakfast club.

The club started not long after John Harris moved to Beaufort, bringing the family-owned Harris Pillow Supply business on Trask Parkway out of the cold of Chicago. John's father vacationed on Hilton Head Island, then bought a villa there, and the Beaufort County economic development office helped them find a place to do business when the family decided to move south.

Charlie Stockell, who was director of the chamber of commerce, knew that John Harris had been a Kiwanian in Illinois and put him in contact with a regional Kiwanis International leader from Mount Pleasant. John said they asked people who they knew were not on the rosters of Beaufort's two Rotary clubs or Lions Club to join, and the club was organized on Jan. 6, 1983, with 24 members. The club was chartered on Feb. 18, 1983, with 43 members on the rolls. Within a year, it had grown to 54 members. Highs in more recent years have been about 40 members.

Henry Fishburne of Mount Pleasant, who was state lieutenant governor at the time the Beaufort club organized and traveled to Beaufort for months to get the club going, said it remains "one of the strongest clubs in the division," which runs along the coastline.

Other presidents have included Judd Richardson, Bob Black, Mark Brittman, Harold Hirschmann, Allen Finley, Keith Horton, Chip Floyd, Ed Allen, Terry Hitchcox, Rick McElveen, Jack Standridge, Tommy Karn, Bill McDuff, Jeff White, Jim Pike, Mike Neilan, Scott Lee, Joe Noll, Bill Knepp, Paul Jernigan, Frank Bailey, Ron Tucker, Terry Stone, Robert Semmler, Al Truesdale and Fred Krumm.

John Harris said members like the club's focus on the needs of children.

The Beaufort club gives four $2,000 scholarships each year to local high school graduates. Emphasis for winners of the Jim Givens Scholarships is placed on community service, character and leadership.

In other local efforts, the club gives dictionaries to third-graders and helps the Little Red Dog Foundation of Beaufort, which provides specially equipped therapeutic, three-wheeled cycles to help the disabled.

It instituted the BUG (Bring Up Grades) program at all elementary schools north of the Broad River. It also recognizes students who might not get the attention and rewards of being on the honor roll, but who have brought up their grades.

It offers free inspections of child car-safety seats. If seats are found to be outdated, the club gives the family a new one.

It helps the Salvation Army.

It delivers Thanksgiving meals to the elderly and needy.

It was the first organization to pick up litter along S.C. 170, when it was only two lanes between the Broad River bridge and the Beaufort Plaza Shopping Center. John Harris said they filled a 10-ton truck on the first outing.

The club's most visible means of raising money is when members in yellow aprons sell hot dogs each May at Bi-Lo.

And the club will hold its 18th annual fundraising golf tournament in September.

Current president Patrick Harris said, "Beaufort is better off because of the club. You can see what you do. If we don't get involved, these kinds of things will go away."

For more information about the club, go to www.kiwanisclubofbeaufort.com.

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