Kiwanis Club of Potsdam

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Service Projects

Upcoming Events

Potsdam Holiday Fund Giving Trees
November - December, 2016

Program Summary
The Potsdam Holiday Fund, Inc. provides new toys, clothing, boots and food to families and senior citizens in need in the Potsdam area. The Potsdam Holiday Fund, Inc. is a 501 ( c ) 3 organization; thus contributions to the fund are tax deductible as allowed by the IRS.


Who Benefits:
Last year we served over 300 needy families with more than 600 children as well as 100 senior citizens in the Potsdam area.

Communities We Serve: 
Generally we serve families in these communities: Potsdam, Madrid, Hopkinton, Nicholville, Brasher Falls, Chase Mills, Fort Jackson, West Stockholm and Winthrop.

How We "Find" These Needy Families: 
We advertise in the local media and on the campuses that applications for assistance are available. (College students with children are eligible to apply.) Families are required to fill out an application for the program to show that they are in need, in order to avoid abuse of the program. We use the income guidelines established by the Potsdam Neighborhood Center.

How We Get Funding:
Nearly all of our money is raised through a direct-mail solicitation mailed to Potsdam residents in October. We are also the primary beneficiary of the Hobble Gobble Prediction Run-Walk, coordinated by Derry Loucks and held in November each year. In 2014, the Potsdam Holiday Fund raised a total of about $53,000. Also, local businesses such as the Potsadm IGA sell "Holiday Happiness" tags for $1 that are personalized by the donor and displayed at the store. Our cost to raise a dollar is about five cents.

How We Spend It: 

  1. Usually we spend about $15,000 on food basket items that we purchase. Also in their food basket is a voucher (gift certificate) to be used to buy food at a local grocery store, the amount depending on the size of the family ($35-$45). Senior citizens also receive food/fruit baskets. The Potsdam Rotary Club coordinates the food basket program.
  2. We give out vouchers for a local department store. In 2014, the vouchers were redeemable at Walmart in Potsdam. Parents can spend up to $50 per child on warm winter clothing.
  3. We sometimes buy new toys and other gifts as needed.

NOTE: The Holiday Fund is run entirely by Volunteers! The only "Administrative Cost" we have is the cost of our mailings.

Other Gifts for the Children: 
About 48 local businesses (many restaurants) set up Giving Trees with tags labeled for boys and girls ages 1 to 17. People pick off tags, buy a gift, wrap it and put it back under the tree. Each year we collect about 1,000 gifts from Giving Trees. The Potsdam Kiwanis Club coordinates the Giving Tree program. In addition, we receive many toys from the Toys for Tots program in St. Lawrence County.

How We Distribute the Toys and Food:

  • Toys: Once we decide who is eligible to participate, we set up appointments for the parents to come to the church to pick out their children’s gifts. We call this “Santa’s Workshop.” All of the gifts are set on tables in the basement of the Methodist Church in Potsdam, and volunteer "elves" help parents find the right gifts. We also give them vouchers if they still need boots or jackets.
  • Food: Families and senior citizens may pick up their baskets in Potsdam, or we have volunteers who deliver to homes that day if the family can’t make it into town.

Schedule of Volunteer Sessions:

  • December 14, 15 and 16, 2016 - Wrap Sessions at the Methodist Church in Potsdam - 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • December 18 and 19, 2016 - Santa's Workshop - Families come to the Methodist Church to pick out toys with the help of our volunteer "Elves" - 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • December 16, 2016 - Food Baskets are delivered or picked up at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
  • Day Saints on Castle Drive in Potsdam - 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

For more information, contact: 
Pam Yurgartis, Holiday Fund President, at [email protected] or (315) 261-9887
Nancy Griffin, Member of the Holiday Fund Board at [email protected]

Annual Projects

School Supplies for the Potsdam Neighborhood Center - each year for several years a donation of anywhere from $100 to $250 worth or school supplies to the Neighborhood Center has been made.

Coats for Kids - When President Dan Fritz served as Lt. Governor for the St. Lawrence Division, he established this project for all of the clubs in the St. Lawrence Division to start in their school district.  We collect coats from community members as well as school members, clean them, and distribute them to the Potsdam Neighborhood Center to ensure that children, as well as adults have a warm coat for those cold winter days and nights. This project began in 2006 and has locations at Lawrence Avenue Elementary and Potsdam High School. 

Head Start Reading Program - in conjunction with the Potsdam Public Library, the Kiwanis Club of Potsdam hosts this reading program at Head Start programs in the Potsdam, Norwood, and Parishville since 2002.  Each year we try to give from five (5) to (8) books to each student in each head start. A Kiwanian or other volunteer read each book that is donated to the students.  Our main sponsorship of this program is NBT Bank, N.A. in Potsdam and Dr. Terrance Reed, DDS.  We have collected donations from the Norwood American Veterans Association, the Norwood Lake Association, SeaComm Federal Credit Union in Potsdam, Dr. Michael Tullock, Dr. Michael Marasca and a few other smaller donations.  

Books for Babies - our club purchases books to donate to the Canton Potsdam Hospital maternity ward. With all that they give the new mothers, they include a book that we have donated, to impress upon new parents how important reading is going to be in their newborn's life. 

Highway Clean Up - twice a year, the Potsdam Kiwanis Club participates in the The Adopt-A -Highway project located on the Potsdam Norwood Road (Route 11) from the Price Chopper Parking Lot to Pleasant Valley Road. 

Rag A Muffin Parade - This parade originated as a Rotary Club/Lions Club/Kiwanis Club sponsored parade.  Kiwanis Club of Potsdam now organizes this parade held at Halloween time for the children of the community. Children may dress up and show off their costumes to the Potsdam Community.  The parade ends at the Fire Station, where the children have fire truck rides and Kiwanis provides donuts and cider. 

Fall/Spring Pancake Breakfast - each year in November and March, a Pancake Breakfast for the Potsdam Community is held.  Potsdam Kiwanis Club, Lawrence Avenue Elementary K-Kids, AAK Middle School Builders Club, Potsdam High School Key Club, and Clarkson Circle K come together to make this event a success.

Interfaith Thanksgiving Baskets Food Drive - Lawrence Avenue Elementary K-Kids, AAK Middle School Builders Club, and Potsdam High School Key Club hold a food drive in their respective schools every year. The program is non-denominational and assists those in need in Potsdam.

Story Hour with Santa - in December, Santa joins the children at the Potsdam Public Library and with the help of their elves, he bring stories and crafts and snacks to all the good little boys and girls.

Potsdam Holiday Fund Giving Trees -  the Giving Tree program receive donations of new toys for the Holiday Fund.  As many as 10,000 new presents are available for families in need. Kiwanis members distribute Giving Tree tags to local businesses, collect donated gifts, and deliver the gifts to the United Methodist Church in Potsdam. Wrapping of Presents - The Potsdam Holiday Fund holds a community wide wrapping session on the Monday through Wednesday the week of the distribution at the United Methodist Church. Members of Potsdam Kiwanis have the opportunity to help with this each year.

Cubley Park Clean Up - each fall and spring we get together to clean up Cubley Park on the corner of Lawrence Avenue, Leroy Street and Elm Street.

Bike Give Away - each year Kiwanis donates a bike and helmet to identified children at the Lawrence Avenue Elementary School and the AAK Middle School.  NBT Bank in Potsdam sponsors the elementary school, younger children's bicycles and helmets.  Walmart gives two bicycles for AAK Middle School with SeaComm Credit Union sponsors the helmets.

2nd Grade Sapling Tree Donation - each year, we purchase enough young trees to give to each second grade student in the Potsdam, Parishville and Colton school districts.  We get the trees through the SeaComm Federal Credit Union in Massena and the Massena Kiwanis Club.

Potsdam High School Scholarship - a $500 scholarship is awarded yearly to a graduating senior, going on to college, or a trade school to better their career. 

Summer Festival - Fried Bread Dough Stand - This has been a yearly project.  Many people now look for our bread dough stand during the summer festival and we get to mingle with the Potsdam Community. 

Ronald McDonald House - with the help of the Lawrence Avenue K-Kids, the Kiwanis collect can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington, Vermont. If you would like to donate can tabs, just contact a Kiwanis member.