Malvern Area Kiwanis Club’s talent show taking auditions

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Special to the MDR

There’s a friendly dog in Hot Spring County who leaps into the air, bounds off of his owner’s back and dives through a hoop as circus music plays. This is one of the many acts visitors saw last year at the Malvern Area Kiwanis Club’s first talent show.

It’s not too late for visitors, and performers, to take part in the Second Annual Hot Spring County’s Got Talent. Auditions are on Tuesday and Thursday at the Boys & Girls Club of Malvern and Hot Spring County from 6-7 p.m.. Applications may be brought in or filled out during the application. The Malvern Area Kiwanis Club is a children’s charity, raising money for children in Hot Spring County, and asks for a $10 entry fee for contestants as part of this fundraiser. The entry fee may be brought during the auditions, which are open to anyone in or outside of Hot Spring County.

Last year, contestants and spectators from all over the state attended and participated in the contest. Many talented musicians blew the audience away with their vocals, either to music CDs or their own instrumentals, and dancers showed cat-like agility as they showed off their skills on the dance stage.

Hot Spring County’s Got Talent is just one of the fundraisers held by the Malvern Area Kiwanis Club over the years to raise funds for children in our area.

“This is an organization that I firmly believe in,” said Reverend Henry Mitchell, president and charter member of the Malvern Area Kiwanis Club. “Its only mission is to provide help for kids.”

Mitchell said there are many children in Hot Spring County whose parents cannot afford many services. Kiwanis’ mission is to assist and give those kids an opportunity to enjoy those things that other children enjoy.

Chartered in 2010, the Malvern Area Kiwanis Club has raised over $50,000 for children’s charity in Hot Spring County. These funds came from fundraisers such as the talent show and the annual Sexy Legs Contest. For several years, Malvern Area Kiwanis has held an annual Sexy Legs Contest and Chili Supper, inviting famous men from around the county to participate. This is done for humor and is a family-friendly event; past participants have dressed in fishnet stockings competed dressed as sharks or professional wrestlers. Money from the chili supper is used to make donations to the Arkansas Rice Depot/Food Bank to help reimburse for the school backpack program (which provides food to students in the county.) Each donation is at least $500, up to $720 some years and one year the Malvern Area Kiwanis Club was raised enough money to donate twice.

Kiwanis fundraisers are a guaranteed entertainment experience for the community. In the past, Kiwanis has also held antique car shows, inviting owners of vintage automobiles to show off their cars for trophies at the event.

Kiwanis has also held arm wrestling tournaments, overseen by a family of world-arm wrestling champions: “Monster” Michael Todd, Rebecca Todd and Ryan Morin. In the past, Kiwanis has also held a trivia contest, which was always a popular event.

With money raised from these fundraisers, Malvern Kiwanis provides Kiwanis scholarships to local students. After last year’s talent show, Malvern Kiwanis awarded about $1,125 in scholarships to three seniors from Malvern High School. Kiwanis has also helped supply nurses stations at every school in the county, plus Poyen, and contributed to the Hot Spring County Summer Reading Program for eight years.

The Malvern Area Kiwanis Club, plus several members, have donated over $11,000 to the Eliminate project to eliminate Neo-Natal Tetanus in third world countries. This is an ongoing project by Kiwanis International and UNICEF.

The Club has also sponsored many students to attend the Boys & Girls Club of Malvern and Hot Spring County. The Boys & Girls Club has often relied on state grants to help pay for children to attend who could not otherwise afford to attend. State cutbacks have drastically reduced the amount of students the Boys & Girls Club was able to scholarship this way, necessitating fundraising efforts. The Malvern Area Kiwanis Club pitches in with money raised from fundraisers to help pay more than 20 children to attend, and Kiwanis has sponsored two sports teams with the club.

Malvern Kiwanis has also donated to the Hannah Grace’s Gift toy drive, providing Christmas presents to children in honor of the late Hannah Grace, and the Morgan Anderson Memorial Softball Tournaments in honor of the late Morgan Anderson.

On Halloween, local Kiwanians can be seen on Main Street participating in Malvern’s annual trick or treat event, and Kiwanians also provide candy for Valentine’s day. Food pantries, including Libby’s R.O.S.E. and Cup of Water, have also benefited from Kiwanis’ donations, and the club sponsors children to leadership programs including Boys State, Girls State and Key Leader.

Mitchell said Malvern Area Kiwanis Members have made it their mission in life to help children. More than just donations, members of the club also work with other organizations for fundraisers, events and drives. Kiwanis members have worked with Victory Inc, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and members have volunteered as Salvation Army Bell Ringers. Volunteers have also helped with several local schools and honored children with the Kiwanis Terrific Kids program, which rewards children with ice cream socials, certificates and bumper stickers (“Proud Parent of a Terrific Kid”) for working hard and being good young citizens.

“Our mission to help kids is not just to give money, but to help them believe in themselves and give them a sense of worth,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said members of Kiwanis are dedicated. Often members are busy professionals who still give their time and energy for fundraisers. Retirees and homemakers also understand the needs in the community as far as children are concerned and make up an essential part of Kiwanis. Many members are parents or grandparents themselves and make their families a part of Kiwanis functions.

The Malvern Area Kiwanis Club is constantly recruiting selfless people who have a passion for helping children. In particular, retirees and homemakers who may be able to work during business hours are essential for club activities and programs, but the club is for anyone and everyone who wants to make a difference in the lives of children in the community.

The Malvern Area Kiwanis Club holds meetings every Thursday at noon at Western Sizzlin. These meetings are a great way for anyone interested in joining to meet members of the club.

“I invite citizens to come and see what we’re about,” said Mitchell. “And you’re guaranteed to have fun.”

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