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      Volunteer organization spreads holiday cheer

      When families struggle to make room in their budget for Christmas presents, it's not only the kids who need a little holiday cheer, but also the parents.

      Hy-Noon Kiwanis, the Ottumwa chapter of global volunteer organization Kiwanis International, knows that, and they are doing something about it.

      Throughout the year, members of Kiwanis collect Happy Bucks at their weekly meetings. At the end of the year, those donations are used to buy gifts for needy kids involved in the Iowa Kids University after school mentoring program.

      Sue Huff, the Executive Director for Iowa Kids University, identifies the families in need of help and collects kids' wish lists.

      "For almost ten years now, Hy-Noon Kiwanis has been doing this very special program to help needy children," she said. "The wonderful Kiwanians take it upon themselves and they go shopping and not only do they shop for the gifts, but they wrap them as well."

      The group purchased and donated gifts to about twenty kids in the Ottumwa area.

      "It's a lot of fun for for our membership and we like to do it," Hy-Noon Kiwanis President Michael Carpenter said. "It's certainly keeping with the Christmas spirit and the mission of Kiwanis International."

      Carpenter says this project is particularly rewarding, because the members are doing more than writing a check to a charity or donating money. The gifts they purchase and wrap themselves go straight into the children's hands, which Carpenter says is very rewarding.

      If you would like to become a member of Hy-Noon Kiwanis and help in their mission to support children's charities, contact Sue Huff at 641-680-2013 or Michael Carpenter at