The Kiwanis Club of High Point was organized with 60 members on May 20, 1920. Charter members J. Elwood Cox. P. A. Thomas, C. F. Tomlinson, J.E. Marsh, and R. H. Sechrest joined many others of their famous contemporaries in establishing this club and giving it a strong base from which to provide significant and meaningful public service through the years.
At the very first meeting a Parks & Playground Committee was formed that evolved into the city Parks & Recreation Department and is credited with obtaining the donation of land for Blair Park. Our club brought the General Secretary of the national YMCA to speak and opened discussion that led to the establishment of the YMCA in High Point. Member Charles Robbins brought to the attention of Kiwanians that the Methodist Protestant Church was contemplating establishment of a college somewhere in North Carolina. A committee was appointed that worked with the Chamber of Commerce, took the lead in acquiring land and money, and presented the proposition to the church committee to bring us what is now High Point University.
Our Fiftieth Anniversary club directory history shows that the Empty Stocking Fund was originated and sponsored by our Kiwanis Club. It moved to the now defunct Furniture City Kiwanis Club then to a small group of former Furniture City members and the High Point Enterprise as the Christmas Cheer Fund. In 1996 our club re-acquired responsibility for this program that gives needy children toys at Christmas.
Service over the years through our committees has benefited our Community, near and far, in many ways. Members labored many Saturdays to build the Arts & Crafts building at Camp Cheerio. For now-gone Boy Scout Camp Uwharrie, we donated money to build the lake, we rebuilt the dock and re-roofed the administration building. We provided equipment for a weight room at the YWCA and built the Pancake Park playground. We built handicapped playgrounds at two area elementary schools and installed playground equipment at Parkview School. Our rehabilitation project in 1990 at the High Point Battered Women's Shelter won recognition from Kiwanis International as well as first place in the Carolina's district Single Service competition. Until the 1999 campaign, our club always raised the most money during the Salvation Army kettle drive. Since then we have been first or second each Christmas.
Club history with major projects is second to none. In 1931 this club paid to provide sixteen under-privileged children with needed Tonsillectomies. In 1940 the State Health Office named our project to aid the hard of hearing (which continued into the 1960's) the "best club project in North Carolina." In 1961 our membership decided to send food to Miami to aid Cuban refugees. Our project resulted in 24 truckloads of donated goods. In 1964 members of our club decided the Boys Home (now Boys and Girls Home) at Lake Waccamaw should have a Kiwanis cottage. We raised $75,000 from 70 North Carolina Kiwanis clubs, with $33,780 of the sum directly from our membership. (This is the reason we continue to annually donate $1,500 to the Home.) In 1995, 52 of our members became Hixson Fellows, donating $1,000 each to the Kiwanis International Foundation, as a way of participation in the Kiwanis International project to eradicate Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) around the world. Our club now has more than 100 Hixson Fellows and leads Kiwanis (per capita). (Every member should consider contributing to this project.)
In recent history we have continued our tradition of making very significant gifts to major projects in High Point - $10,000 for construction of our current hospital; $5,000 to the Salvation Army's Fred Alexander Service Center renovations (Fred's a member of our club); $5,000 for YMCA construction; the construction of a Habitat home in 1998, and many others.
We also support education, for many years having assisted local students with scholarships to High Point University and to Guilford Technical Community College. We sponsored the first Key Club in the Carolinas at High Point High School, with current Kiwanian Nat Harrison as a member. We now sponsor a Circle K Club, four Key Clubs, three Builders Clubs, and four Terrific Kids programs. We joined the Communities in Schools program and worked with Kirkman Park Elementary (career day, lunch buddies, honor day, new books, etc.) and the next year with Oak Hill Elementary School. Our latest project with Communities in Schools was working with third graders to help them pass their reading and writing end-of-year exam. Volunteers from the community as well as our membership numbered over 300.
An outline of projects by the Kiwanis Club of High Point will never be complete because each year brings more effort to improve our community. It is up to each member, new and old, to look for areas where we can assist others. As long as we each help the club stretch what we have thought possible in the past, we will continue to be proud to be known as Kiwanians.