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Are you a former CKI member—and still committed to service leadership? Or getting ready to graduate and leave your CKI club? Connect with other alumni!

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As the network grows, we will continue to evolve to ensure a valuable experience for our members. Through blogs and story-sharing, let’s reconnect and find out who's where and what they are up to.
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  • Kiwanis family month

    The Kiwanis family includes clubs for every age and ability. In November, we celebrate Kiwanis Family Month—taking time to appreciate each other and create a bond with the other clubs nearby. Reach out and share your love of Kiwanis with a fundraiser, service project or shared activity! Here are a few ideas:

    Invite SLP members to attend or lead a Kiwanis club meeting. Exposing SLP members to a Kiwanis club while they are still very involved with their SLP club is key to getting them to stay in the Kiwanis family. Bridge the gap—make your Kiwanis club more approachable.

    Have job-shadowing days with members of an SLP club. Job shadows are key in deciding on a career path. Act as a mentor, and help provide young professionals with a little insight—along with a little growth in their network.

    Plan a parent-appreciation celebration for SLP members’ parents. Without the aid of their parents, most of our students may not be involved with the Kiwanis family. Show SLP members’ parents that you appreciate their support.  

    Write notes of encouragement to SLP club members. Sometimes SLP members need your insight and inspiration more than they let on. Maybe they haven’t  reached a fundraising goal, or someone has simply been losing enthusiasm. Let them know you’re there, and you care.

    Thank SLP club advisors and officers for their dedication. Much of an SLP club’s success depends on effective advisors and officers. So keep them motivated—and show them that their hard work does not go unnoticed. Tell them you appreciate them!

    Plan a multi-club community service project or fundraiser. What better way to bring the family together? Here are a few ideas:

    • Clean up trash from a street or park.
    • Hold a pancake breakfast or dinner to raise money for a cause.
    • Volunteer for a local food bank, or collect, pack and deliver canned food.
    • Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
    • Create thank-you cards or gifts for law enforcement officers and firefighters.
    • Create care packages or write letters to military members.
    • Hold a coat drive and donate to a local shelter.
    • Make no-sew blankets and donate to a local shelter.
    • Make knit caps for hospitalized kids who have had chemotherapy treatments.

    The possibilities for Kiwanis Family Month are endless. But it’s only a month away. Reach out this November, and then stay in touch. Keep family ties strong—all year long!

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  • Are you on LinkedIn?

    LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Its mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Sounds like a good place for Circle K alumni. That’s why we’re excited to announce the Circle K International Alumni LinkedIn group!

    We welcome you to join this private online group, which has several benefits for you:

    • Find a mentor. As long as Circle K has been around, and considering how many people have been members, one of them is bound to be in your desired career field. Make a post stating your future career goals, and you may be surprised who you meet. Who knows, they could even lead you to your future employer.
    • Be a mentor. Explain how you came to your career—it surely didn’t happen overnight. What challenges did you face, what failures did you overcome, and how did you learn from them? Help young professionals pave their career path.
    • Get professional tips. Members of the group are encouraged to post open positions at their jobs. Utilize your connections with Circle K alumni to get your foot in the door! This page will also provide tips for interviewing, creating a resume and professionalism—so keep an eye out!

    To learn what else the Circle K Alumni LinkedIn group can provide for you, request to join!

    If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, set up a LinkedIn professional profile. It’s free to join.

    With LinkedIn, you can:

    • Establish your professional profile and control one of the top search results for your name.
    • Build and maintain your professional network.
    • Find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates.
    • Learn about other companies and get industry-specific insights.
    • Find other professionals in the same industry using groups.
    • Tap into the knowledge of your network.
    • Discover new career opportunities.

    The first thing an employer does before an interview is search your name online—be certain they find what they’re looking for.  And remember, today’s competitive world is all about who you know—so take this chance to grow who you know!

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  • What do you remember?

    This month we are collecting memories—care to add to the collection? Through the entire month of October we want to hear about your favorite Circle K experiences! These memories could include both stories and pictures. Share Circle K memories on your Twitter and Facebook accounts with the hashtag #CircleKMemories. It might even be chosen to be shared in an upcoming newsletter!

    Maybe it’s that annual service project or fundraiser you did with your fellow Circle K members. Or maybe it's simply a throwback picture! Whatever it is, share it. Take a step back in time, share some memories, look through others’ . . . and maybe even reconnect with members from your club! Don’t forget to tag your Twitter and Facebook posts with #CircleKMemories.

    Have you connected with us yet? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter—never miss a beat.

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  • Serve children this Halloween

    For children, Halloween can be a fun kind of scary. But a hospital stay is just plain scary—for the kids and their families. Spirit of Children makes a difference. The program’s mission is to bring fun (and fundraising) to hospitals during the Halloween season.

    “The Halloween season is a time for kids to be kids,” said Steven Silverstein, president and CEO of Spirit Halloween. “Through our Spirit of Children program, we bring the Halloween experience to families and help make memories they wouldn’t be able to have otherwise.”

    Established in 2006, Spirit of Children raises money in-store, online and through vendor donations to support the Child Life department at hospitals across the United States and Canada. Through 2014, they have raised more than US$22 million in cash and merchandise donations. The program also partners with more than 130 children’s hospitals—maybe even one near you.

    There are a couple of ways to get involved with Spirit of Children:

    • Donate costumes and decorations. The main focus of Spirit of Children’s Halloween parties are costumes and decorations. When you buy a Halloween costume at your local Spirit Halloween store, you can pay for an additional children's costume while you are there (i.e., an in-store donation). Or you can contact a participating hospital near you and ask about adding your old costumes and decorations to their collection.
    • Help participating hospitals raise funds. You can make donations to Spirit of Children in person at Spirit Halloween stores or online. (Online gifts can be made up to US$100.) If you make at least a US$2 donation you will receive a branded Spirit of Children bracelet with the #SpiritofChildren for you not only to wear during your Halloween celebrations, but also to upload photos showing your support of the program. Every hospital has different needs, Child Life directors determine what Spirit of Children funds will be used for—ranging from books, TVs and craft materials to additional staff and classes.

    Spirit of Children’s funds have enabled some hospitals to increase Child Life hours and staff, and have even helped fund an outdoor playground at one hospital. However you get involved, you will help children's hospitals, children battling illness and families who simply wish to see their children smile. Put some service in your Halloween celebrations this year—with Spirit of Children!

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  • Annual Fundraisers: How & Why

    Increase fundraising. Create awareness. Make connections in your community. Bring energy to your club with an annual fundraiser or service project. For the past 12 years the Meridian Kiwanis Club of Columbus, Indiana, has been hosting The Incredible Duck Splash in their community. Jeff Blasdel, a member of the club, shares his experience with annual fundraising events, explaining why hosting annual events is key and how they put together such a successful event year after year.

    Jeff got the idea in 2004 from another Kiwanis club and decided it was something he wanted to do. As he explored the idea further, he found the twist that he believes has made all the difference in the world: involving other organizations.

    Everyone benefits

    Jeff felt motivated to tackle this large scale fundraiser because he saw a way to help other organizations in his community raise funds. Little did he know that he would end up doing much more.

    The Meridian Kiwanis club has partnered with local youth-serving organizations in the community. Leading up to the event, the partnered organizations sell “duck adoptions.” Not only does this help get the word out, but it also brings profit for the organizations, which receive 80% of their sales. (Some of the organizations even use the Incredible Duck Splash as their main fundraiser.) Once they collect the money from the duck adoptions, they turn it into the Meridian Kiwanis Club’s collection site. After the event, the Kiwanis club will mail them a check.

    Aside from the financial benefits, the Incredible Duck Splash has helped make the Kiwanis family more familiar in Columbus. For instance, local Key Clubbers help out each year. And the event has brought several new club members to each of the town’s local Kiwanis clubs.

    “I wanted a signature project that could make Kiwanis more visible in our community and bring the local clubs closer together,” Jeff says. “I have found three of my best friends from the other three clubs in town. I would have never gotten to know them if it weren’t for this.”

    Getting started

    A committee was formed from these volunteers—known as the Head Kwackers. Through numerous meetings, they soon found what skills and connections each person brought to the committee and the solutions came almost as fast as the hurdles appeared.

    The first step is to pick a date. Be sure to consider these key questions: What time of year will it be? How can we ensure the best possible turn-out? What other community events may be happening, and how can we use them to our advantage? For example, the Incredible Duck Splash takes place on the second Saturday in October because the city’s Ethnic Expo is also that day. This was particularly helpful in the initial years of the fundraiser, since the Ethnic Expo already attracts a large crowd on its own.

    Another vital component of getting started is forming key relationships in your community—putting together an annual fundraiser becomes a lot easier with the help of others. Consider how your connections can aid you in your annual fundraising event. The Meridian Kiwanis Club was aware they could not successfully pull this all off on their own—so they reached out to local organizations and key citizens in their community. By creating partnerships and gaining sponsors, the club not only put on the first Incredible Duck Splash, but fulfilled an important goal: gaining new members and spreading the Kiwanis name.

    In fact, at least fourteen members have been gained from sponsors and contributors. “Sponsorship usually comes down to a personal connection,” Jeff says, “and we work hard to keep those connections strong.”

    Hard work and progress

    The Incredible Duck Splash was a lot of work the first few years—from getting approvals from local authorities to procuring prizes, sponsorships and more. .

    “We spent several hundred hours working out all the details,” Jeff says. “Now my committee only meets once or twice a year. But we also communicate by email to ensure everyone is getting their assignments done.”

    All that work has paid off. Each year, the event has gotten bigger and better, recently selling as many as 15,300 ducks in one year. The entertainment includes a free magic show, free bounce house, Star Wars characters in costume and remote control boats. They even have a float in the Ethnic Expo Parade each year before the event—the float is accompanied by the Incredible Duck Splash mascot, magician and Star Wars friends. This year, the club has already raised nearly US$50,000!  

    If your Kiwanis club isn’t putting together an annual fundraiser, what’s holding you back? The Incredible Duck Splash is just one example of an annual fundraiser that increases club membership, morale and impact. Now that you have some tips, get started—host an annual fundraiser!

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  • Service Scavenger Hunt

    Bring this Service Scavenger Hunt to your next club meeting and see who can finish the most before the next meeting—OR—make this Scavenger Hunt a competition between your family and friends! However you choose to utilize the hunt, you’re bound to have a great time.

    In your community:

    __ Wash 5 car windshields at a gas station

    __ Help someone bring groceries to their car

    __ Put away 5 stray shopping carts

    __ Leave uplifting notes on 5 cars in a parking lot

    __ Tape 5 uplifting notes in a public bathroom

    __ Pick up trash at a local park or parking lot

    __ Give a flower (fresh or paper) to 3 different people and wish them a great day

    In your personal life:

    __ Call 2 people you haven’t spoken to in awhile

    __ Mail an appreciation card to someone you care for

    __ Greet 5 strangers with a smile and an enthusiastic hello

    __ Say hello to someone you dislike

    __ Write a thank you note for someone that has helped you

    Remember, this Scavenger Hunt can be used anytime with anyone. When you finish your Scavenger Hunt activity, be sure to tell us how your experience went—encourage others to spread kindness!

    Here is a printable version of the ServiceScavengerHunt!

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  • Service Project: Chemo Care Kits

    “It’s the closest to death I have ever been. The chemotherapy takes you as far down into hell as you’ve ever, ever been.”—Melissa Etheridge, musician and cancer survivor 

    As if going through cancer isn’t enough, cancer patients also suffer the terrible side effects of the treatment—which most commonly involves chemotherapy.

    Unfortunately, as bystanders we cannot offer them much relief. But Sheila Sjolseth has a way to brighten their days with compassion and encouragement. This is a project that can be done anywhere with anyone—so get started!

    With the guidance of Sheila Sjolseth, Founder and president of Pennies of Time—a nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching kids to serve—offers a step-by-step guide for making Chemo Care Kits. It’s a great way to get people of all ages involved in an interesting and impactful service project. Try it with your Kiwanis club, family, friends or coworkers!

    You can choose to make Chemo Care Kits that are intended for adults, children or both—whatever inspires you. You can find the step-by-step guides to making Adult Chemo Care Kits and Children's Chemo Care Kits on Sheila’s Pennies of Time blog. With a group of about 10 people, it only takes 30 minutes to put together 70 care kits.

    In her blog, Sheila also provides tips on coordinating with a hospital or clinic. These tips will help you figure out how to get started and learn the “best practices” of delivering your Chemo Care Kits.

    When gathering the items for your chemo care kits, keep the Kiwanis DollarDays account in mind. Here, you can get wholesale items to include in your kits. If you would rather not spend the money on the care kit items, start a mini fundraiser! Tell others the project you are working on and explain how their donations will help. (Remember, donated items must be brand new since “used” items are not safe for cancer patients). Keep the cost low so you can brighten the day of more patients!

    There is no way to fully understand what cancer patients endure, but you can help them cope. However you choose to complete the project, you are bound to have fun, learn more about the daily struggles of chemotherapy patients—and be amazed by the difference you make in patients’ lives. After you complete this project please be sure and tell us how your experience went! We know this project will impact the patents, but we would love to hear how it impacted you as well.

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  • Get involved with Key Leader!

    "My favorite part of the weekend is watching my students reach their full potential and blossom as leaders. Kiwanis Key Leader changes lives." —Indiana teacher and volunteer

    Have you been looking for ways to activate your alumni membership? Then we’ve got good news for you. Circle K Alumni are welcome to volunteer at  upcoming Key Leader events! Help a teen grow into a leader. And take the opportunity to learn more about yourself.

    Key Leader is a weekend experiential leadership program for today’s young leaders. This life-changing event focuses on service leadership as the first, most meaningful leadership-development experience. Students ages 14–18 attend a Key Leader conference— essentially a weekend retreat. Find an event near you or take a quick look at the 2015 dates and locations.

    "Key Leader creates a comfortable setting that helps everyone discover talents within themselves,” says one Key Club member from Iowa. “It was the spark that changed who I was and paved a brighter future for who I can become." —Key Club member from Iowa

    Volunteers and Kiwanis members

    As a volunteer, you may be asked to chaperone a group, serve a meal or help with event logistics. All Key Leader volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and must consent to a criminal background check. This background check must be completed through the Kiwanis International office prior to Key Leader attendance.


    As a supportive parent, you try to prepare your child for life’s challenges by offering experiences that build character and confidence. A Key Leader weekend is filled with experiences like these. During three action-packed days, teens learn life skills, meet new friends, get outdoors and out of their comfort zones. Empower your child by having them attend a Key Leader event!

    Key Leader events will resume at the end of September and continue through the middle of December. If you’d like to help, donate food or sponsor a student, take a quick look at the upcoming dates and locations. Find an event in your area and email the contact person.

    You will be amazed in the difference you can make in teens’ lives . . .  and in your own.

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  • Kiwanis Peanut Day

    Do we have enough snacks to hand out? Will everything represent Kiwanis well? How am I going to get all of this ready in time? Don’t let questions like these drain the fun from your fundraising events. Keep the fun in your fundraising—use Kiwanis Peanut Day to your club’s advantage!

    The Kiwanis Peanut Day committee has been in your shoes. In fact, Kiwanis Peanut Day Inc. is a not-for-profit committee of active Kiwanians in the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District. Members understand that the details of organizing a fundraiser can be frustrating. This Kiwanis-sponsored fundraising program is exclusively for Kiwanis clubs—made for you by people like you.

    Over the past 64 years, Kiwanis Peanut Day has helped clubs raise over US$74 million for various charities. Take a look at the top 25 Kiwanis Peanut Day fundraising events from this year alone. Kiwanis Clubs do amazing things everyday on their own, but when Kiwanis Clubs work together, the impact is even larger. And remember, Kiwanis Peanut Day doesn’t only provide peanuts. Their various products are proven sellers! The real trick is deciding how to incorporate them into your events. Here are a few ideas:
    • Sell small, individually wrapped products at events with big crowds. For instance, mini pretzels and trail mix packets go over well at concerts, festivals, and sporting and school events. You will be surprised how willing people are to buy your products when you bring them directly to them.
    • Make Kiwanis Peanut Day the focus of your fundraising event. Buy promotional items, such as the posters. Promote your event far enough in advance so that people are able to attend—you can also ensure a great turnout by having the event in a public space. Have some fun games, facts about peanuts, inform the public about your Kiwanis Club! Sell Kiwanis Peanut Day items at your fundraising event and see the difference it can make.
    • Go beyond  fundraising. Peanut Day products are also a great way to get the word out! For example, how about a parade? Throw bags of peanuts or gummi bears to the crowd. It’s a great way to get the Kiwanis name out there—to people you may not normally reach.

    What else can Kiwanis Peanut Day offer for you and your club? Insurance. After all, Kiwanis clubs need to make prudent decisions allowing Key Club members and other volunteers under 18 years old to work at fundraising events. Insurance helps, protecting you from things you cannot anticipate. Through Kiwanis Peanut Day, Accident and Medical Insurance policies are available per day for non-Kiwanians for US$30/5,000 coverage.

    Help spread the Kiwanis name, raise funds for your club or prefered charity . . . and support the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District while you’re at it. Sell Kiwanis Peanut Day products!

    Learn more online, and put the fun back in fundraising.

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  • Cut toxic relationships from your life

    You know that friend who doesn't really feel like a friend? Or that person at the office who turns everything into a negative statement, no matter what you say? We’ve all got them—people in our lives who seem to enjoy dragging us down.

    These “toxic” influences may subconsciously feel threatened by your strengths, or they may just see you as an easy target. Either way, they will attempt to undermine or control you by limiting your peace of mind, happiness or success. You can’t let them. But you also can’t avoid all of them everywhere you go.

    What you can do is learn to avoid their negativity. That begins with understanding why you attract it in the first place. It might just start with some of your strongest positive attributes!

    You are a great listener. Honestly, with all the distractions we face today, it’s hard to come across great listeners. Toxic people cannot pass up an opportunity to be heard. They would talk to you for hours if they could get away with it! They ignore every verbal cue and body language sign you throw at them. They are certainly not interested in what you have to say—and they don’t even try to hide it. The solution: Think of some exit lines. For example, “It was great catching up with you…” or “I’ll talk to you again soon, but right now I must…”. Of course, this will feel harsh and awkward sometimes—but you have to be upfront for the sake of your own well being!

    Your view of human nature is super positive. You’re an incredibly optimistic person, and you choose to see the good in people. You struggle to see possessiveness, narcissism, greed and deception. You hold on to relationships with certain people because you believe they will change. The solution: Trust your intuition. If you’re in an emotionally negative or abusive situation, don’t second-guess your discomfort. Emotional discomfort is similar to physical pain—it protects you from further damage. Be self-aware and take action next time you feel this way.

    You’re really easygoing. If you’re an easygoing person, you’re good at keeping your cool in tough situations and putting others at ease. Most likely, you are nonaggressive, patient and kind. Toxic people may interpret you as an easy target for their controlling ways. The solution: Become aware of how a toxic person may take advantage of you. Your polite words and kind gestures may seem like an open invitation. Stop saying things like “Sure, anytime you want”—it might be interpreted literally by a toxic person. And don’t automatically commit to requests. Phrase it like “Let me get back to you on that in 10 minutes.” And if you do say yes, avoid giving the impression that your acceptance is open-ended.

    These tips were provided by professional life coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Their personal development blog, Hack Life, is filled with articles to help you find happiness. If you would like more tips on cutting toxic relationships, check out 7 Surprising Reasons You’re Attracting Toxic People.

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Circle K International - Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs