The Kiwanis Club of Hillsdale was organized and officially chartered on September 17, 1924 with a nucleus of 38 members. The Kiwanis Club of Jackson was the sponsoring club.
Since its beginning, the Hillsdale club has adhered to the ideals and objectives of Kiwanis as established by Kiwanis International and the motto ‘SERVING THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD”. The club has recognized its responsibility to the community and has sought out and sponsored civic projects.
Hillsdale was instrumental in organizing clubs in Adrian and Coldwater.
The Kiwanis Club of Hillsdale has been honored by having three Governors. Tom Oliver served in 1974, William “Bill” Van Arsdalen 2006-2007 and Joan Van Arsdalen 2009-2010. Fourteen of our members have served as Lt. Governors of this division. Many early projects were designed principally for underprivileged and physically handicapped children. Funds have been contributed for improvements at Kimball YMCA Camp and for sending underprivileged children to camp for a week. We have contributed annually to Kiwanis of Michigan Foundation which includes the former Forney Clement project (C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital), Mary Free Bed Hospital (Ben Dean protect), Walter J.L. Ray project (Children’s Hospital of Michigan), Herman H. Meyer project (Northern Michigan Hospitals) and the Charles W. Shull Coloring Book project. Scholarships are provided to Michigan State Police Academy and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We have helped 4-H Club boys and girls by creating a calf project fund which enabled them to purchase pure bred stock. They then paid back their loans when their calves were grown and sold.
In addition, many community projects have been accomplished. We joined with many other Michigan Kiwanis clubs in a reforestation of 5,000 acres in the Oscoda district. Fourteen acres of land of what is now the high school athletic field were purchased for the purpose of developing a recreational site for youth. This land was later turned over to the Hillsdale school district for its athletic programs. We helped the 4-H Clubs by purchasing chairs for the new building and contributed to the fund for the construction of the small animal barn on the fairgrounds. Other activities through the years have included sponsorship of Boy Scout troops, financing and equipping baseball teams in the junior league, and hosting foreign exchange students in our homes. We provide a dictionary for all 3rd grade students and a thesaurus for all 7th grade students in Hillsdale County. In March we sponsor a Bicycle Reading program to elementary and middle schools. We also give financial support to United Way, Juvenile Diabetes, CAPA Domestic Harmony, Girl Scouts and the Perennial Park senior Center.
Hillsdale Kiwanis inaugurated the first fly-in in the Michigan District. Chairman of the event was Guy Lovejoy, a charter member of the club. Over 200 Kiwanians from Michigan, representing 27 clubs, came in 68 private planes. Then Governor of the State of Michigan Kim Sigler was one of the participants.
Money raising projects have included a chili cook-off and craft show, cheese sale, golf tournaments, fair parking, auctions, ice cream socials, fish fries, fruit sales, salisbury steak dinners and Christmas coloring books. Selling practically everything from fire extinguishers to cook books has enabled the club to be a “Builder” by helping meet the needs of others.
The Hillsdale High School Key Club was chartered August 27, 2000, with a nucleus of 18 members and the Davis Middle School Builders Club was chartered May 5, 2002. During September, 2003, an Aktion Club was chartered to assist developmentally disabled adults. A Circle K Club was chartered September 2, 2007 at Hillsdale College. Kiwanis sponsors the “Terrific Kids” program and BUG (Bring Up Grades) at Gier Elementary School. In 2009-2010 a K-Kids Club was formed at Bailey School, now located at Gier School.