Many of you know that my office was located in Carpinteria for many years. The people of Carpinteria were supportive of my agency and my business was successful.
In the mid 1990’s I decided to give back to the community. A friend of mine, Ed Macias, who worked at a local gas station, had asked me to join the Kiwanis Club. I knew nothing about Kiwanis other than it was a service club. I joined Ed for one of the Wednesday night meetings and was surprised at what a close knit group of guys they were. Most of the guys were World War II vets. They had done their service for our country and returned to Carpinteria to raise families. I looked forward to our weekly meetings to share a beer and a meal and talk about our week.
Our club was involved in all kinds of fund raisers and community events. We sold raffle tickets, barbecued for the flower growers, cleaned the freeways. We even barbecued 1200 pounds of tri-tip to serve as burritos at the Avocado Festival. This was a social club but make no mistake they expected you to do your share of work.
Each Christmas the club would end the year with a special event. We would go to a local store and purchase toys for about 60 under privileged boys and girls. Each member would wrap several toys and write the name of the recipient on the package. At our Christmas party we would serve the kids and the adults a special meal. And at the right time, jingle bells would ring out and out would step Santa Claus. Usually Marty Macias would play the part of Santa, as Marty was bilingual. As each boys and girls name was called out, most would run up to Santa. Some needed a little prodding, but by the end of the night each child had a brand new toy and went home smiling.
Each Christmas, I think about the special men and women of Kiwanis, and how they changed the lives of so many in their community.