Student volunteering comes full circle
Western students are getting involved and serving the Bellingham community through the WWU Circle K club. The club is a student-led community service and leadership organization, dedicated to bettering the Bellingham area. Their motto is simple: “Live to serve. Love to serve.”
Circle K is a Kiwanis organization. As of now, there are over 600,000 Kiwanis members in over 80 countries. Throughout the world, Kiwanis dedicates itself to nearly 150,000 service projects every year. In North America alone, there are approximately 5,000 branches of the club.
Club president Jennifer Hicks said there are a multitude of projects the Circle K club gets involved with.
“We’re all about doing community service projects, whether or not it’s helping out with the environment, or helping out older people. We find community service projects our members want to do,” Hicks said.
The branches of Kiwanis range from elementary school through college. In elementary school, the club is called “K-Kids.” In middle school, the club is referred to as “Builders Club.” In high school, it is called “Key Club.” Then, once you reach the university level, the club is known as “Circle K.” As you progress through each of the phases, the name changes, but the organization and work at each level remains the same.
One project that Hicks is particularly passionate about is raising money for the less fortunate.
“Sometimes we will do a service project to raise funds for different charities,” Hicks said. “There is a lot of need in [the Bellingham] community. It’s not feasible to just ask for companies to donate things, it needs to come from a personal level to make sure people are getting what they need.”
Club vice president of service Alexis Muniz said it’s especially important for Western students to give back to their community while they still can.
Muniz has been a part of the Kiwanis organization since she was in middle school, and she has reaped the benefits of the club over the years. They even awarded her a college scholarship in high school just for being a part of the organization.
“I could give people a million reasons,” Muniz said. “It’s heartwarming. It’s a good way to get involved with the community.”
Both Muniz and Hicks agreed they feel like they’ve gained a lot from the club and it’s rewarded them in various ways.
“I’ve gained a lot of leadership skills being a member. You have to be able to interact with a variety of people from different backgrounds,” Hicks said. “I’ve met a lot of good friends through service projects, actually.”
Muniz said the club gives back to the community in tangible ways which members can be proud of.
“I went to a work party last year at a park where we planted all of these trees. I went again this year and I got to see the trees were a little bit bigger,” Muniz said. “It’s really just seeing the lasting impact. You don’t have to be rich to make an impact. It’s proving, to a point, that one person can make a difference in the world.”
Senior Audrey Orem said she has realized the benefits of community service in Bellingham. She thinks the club does a good job of keeping students involved in what’s going on.
“It’s a good way to keep Western students involved with the local community,” Orem said.
Hicks said in order to join the Circle K club at Western, all new members must attend a meeting and pay a due of $20. After doing this, they are officially a part of the club and can start participating in various service projects. Meetings are held every Monday at 7:10 p.m. in Academic Instructional Center West 305.
“We are a public funded university, and since it is a college town, we should be making an impact on the community,” Muniz said. “We have, in some cases, more time than some adults. There’s really no reason we shouldn’t be involved. It’s just a good thing to do.”