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Kiwanis brightens Christmas for dozens of kids

December 17, 1998

(Editor's note: For these 12 days before Christmas, we will be recognizing individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others. This is the sixth in the series.)

Kiwanis giftsBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




Seated at a formal dining table with a napkin on her lap and a dinner of roast chicken in front of her, 7-year-old Tinisha can barely contain her excitement enough to eat her meal.

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She knows that in just minutes, Santa Claus will make an appearance, spreading holiday cheer and providing her with a gift or two.

"I am so excited," she said.

When asked what present she would like most, the youngster is speechless.

"It doesn't matter," she said after giving it some thought.

One of 59 needy children chosen from area schools, she spent Tuesday evening as the guest of the Kiwanis Club of Suburban Hagerstown for its annual Christmas dinner at the Venice Inn.

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The children come from 10 area elementary schools and are selected by local principals based on need, according to club President Doug Pugh.

"It makes us proud to be able to put a smile on 60 kids faces," he said.

South Hagerstown High School teacher and Kiwanis Club member Evelyn Williams said she enjoys being a part of the event each year.

"It gives us all a lift and makes us feel inspired to see the magic of Christmas in all our hearts," she said.

The Kiwanis members funded the event with $4,500 made in a fall sale of peanuts.

The evening consisted of a meal, Christmas carols sung by North and South Hagerstown Key Club members, an opportunity to visit with Santa Claus and several gifts including sweaters, sneakers, gloves, hats and a toy.

Each year, different students are chosen to attend.

Pugh said the annual Christmas party for the children has become a tradition for the club and is one of its most rewarding projects.

The club has been hosting the event for 35 years.

"I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to help children and have a positive influence," said Pugh, who has been a Kiwanis member since 1981.

Pugh said that the group doesn't hold the event to receive recognition but is pleased when parents let members know the effort is appreciated.

"We've received very heartwarming thank you letters and while we don't do it for that it's a tremendous kudo," he said.

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