Armed with Payson High School diplomas and $1,500 to $2,000 scholarship checks from Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country, 11 seniors headed out into the world to further their education in 2006.
Area civic groups gave away more than $75,000 in scholarships. Kiwanis portion was $17,000.
"I am grateful for the money I received," Sierra Sommars said. She is currently an elementary education major at Arizona State University, with a focus on middle school math.
The scholarship made it possible for Sommars to be a "Devil's Advocate," part of an ASU orientation program for freshmen and to spend time at Herrera Elementary School as a math intern. Without the financial assistance, she would have had to balance work and study.
Likewise, Darryl DeWeese's scholarship cushioned his entry into the University of Southern California.
The Dean's List student is carrying an 18-credit load and plays the trumpet in USC's marching band.
"He plays at all the games, including the Rose Bowl," his mother Barb DeWeese said.
According to his father, Luke Apfel is studying wildlife biology at Northern Arizona University.
"I think I was happier (about the scholarship) than Luke was," James Apfel joked. "Seriously, Luke really appreciated it."
Kaycee Pugel is also having "a fantastic experience" at NAU.
Kiwanis' next club president Bobby Davis handed out more than 50 applications for scholarships at the recent scholarship fair. So far, 10 teens have returned applications.
The $1 fine that Betty Steiber collects from Kiwanians who don't wear their badge to the meeting obviously does not fund the scholarships or other projects for and about local children.
Kiwanians have made room in their hearts for area children and teens since April 1982.
For the past dozen years, their annual auction has been the club's moneymaker.
So, get ready to set sail on the USS Kiwanis on Saturday, March 31.
The live and silent auctions, held in the Mazatzal Casino's entertainment hall, will be accompanied by dinner catered by Cedar Ridge Restaurant.
Boarding passes for the USS Kiwanis are $50 per person or $400 per table of eight.
They may be purchased from any Kiwanis member, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce or at the Payson Roundup.
Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner follows an hour later.
Attendees may well need that first hour to eyeball and stake a claim to the silent auction items.
Is golf your favorite sport? See the lamp Bedrooms and More donated.
Does your young ‘un need a set of cowboy boots? Laura Wala donated two pairs.
Or surprise the love of your life with a floral centerpiece from Payson Florist.
Is "I never have enough tools," your motto?
The folks at Ace Hardware donated a tool kit.
"The best auction item I ever took home was the antelope print that hangs in my office," 24-year member, Robert Sanders said.
Area businesses were also generous in their donations of gift certificates.
Dine out, take in a show, or treat yourself to a massage or a free month at the gym.
Chase Bank even donated a safe deposit box, free for a year, to hold your important things.
The club's goal is to raise $30,000, so it is perfectly fine if people experience the excitement of live auction bidding.
Go ahead, raise your paddle.
You know you want:
A 17-inch computer monitor from Computech, a 14K gold and amethyst ring from Payson Jewelers, five yards of concrete from Payson Concrete, an Apache Gold golf package and a performance by members of the Payson Choral Society for your business, home or organization.
There are a good many more items, but the STIHL chain saw deserves mention.
CRW Construction donated the saw. While it has been sitting safe and sound in the garage of a certain Kiwanian, the saw has been calling out to her husband "Bid on me. Bid on me." (So goes the tale, told at a recent Thursday club meeting.)
"I am proud of our auction," said member Barbara Tejack. "It takes so much effort, but we have fun doing it and everyone is jubilant when it is over."
"Children are priority one," is the motto of Kiwanis International.
While the auction is fun and made possible by businesses that donate items and the good folk who bid on them, Kiwanis is active the year through.
Just ask a member from the Builder's Club at Rim Country Middle School.
"I loved going to the humane society," said Janine Tantimonaco. "We played with the cats and puppies and we walked the older dogs and just helped out."
"I like helping the community and in the club you get to make new friends," Kya Brunson said.
"The club teaches responsibility toward others and the community and that the world is not just me," said Ned Schall, a social studies teacher at Rim County Middle School and the Builder's Club adviser.
Students in high school may participate in the Key Club.
They challenged the drama club to collect cans and dry goods for the local St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.
They raised money for software that PHS's computer tech class students installed in computers they had refurbished. Then computers were donated to local charities.
K-Kids is for elementary age students.
Kathryn Lee and former Kiwanian Sandy Burnham started the club about 10 years ago.
"Sandy had gone to an international convention and heard a man from Florida share what he was doing," Lee said.
K-Kids gives young students the chance to develop leadership skills and do good work in the community.
For a couple of years Lee and Burnham made up their own certificates and pins, then Kiwanis International picked up the program.
Now students get T-shirts and all kinds of things.
Terrific Kids, a monthly reward for students who are tending to their schoolwork and being kind, is part of this program.
"I love giving awards to the children," Steiber said. "They are so excited to get their awards."
Another neat thing Lee recalls K-Kids doing was helping the Time Out Shelter get its halfway house ready.
Kiwanians helped paint walls, and then K-Kids came up with designs and painted those designs on the walls of the children's rooms.
Kiwanis support of clubs and college scholarships still leaves room for teens seeking help to finance special workshops.
"So many kids come to us requesting money for special activities, not just academics," Barbara Tejack said.
"We support the children's outreach through the Tonto Rim Concert Association," Tejack said. "That means a lot to me because my late husband Ray was the instigator of that."
Recently Kiwanis has supported a young man's dream to attend a special flight school and a young woman's dream to attend a music workshop.
Helping youth achieve their goals is made possible by Kiwanis and other civic organizations.
But, without community support of their fund-raisers, not nearly as much fun would be had and certainly not as many scholarships would be given.
Kiwanis 12th Annual Auction for Youth is an opportunity for people to invest in the future.
Time is running out
There are still a few $20 chances to win a week in March 2008 at a one-bedroom beach condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico or a week in June at the Rancho Mirage Westin Resort at Mission Hills in California.
(These timeshare weeks were deeded to the club by the Bagwell Family about six years ago.)