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Circle K members volunteer in parks, shelters, food bank during annual convention

Vicki Hermansen | Jul 07, 2017
CKI members volunteer and help others

More than 220 college students with a keen interest in sustainability worked throughout San Antonio, Texas, USA to help residents have access to healthy food and parks that are clean and safe.

Members of Circle K International, a leadership program for college students by Kiwanis International, volunteered Thursday, July 6, 2017, at six locations in San Antonio that incorporate sustainability into their missions. The volunteer day is held annually in conjunction with the CKI global convention.  

Shayna Cole, president of Circle K International, said the students are proud to make an impact in San Antonio.

“Circle K International members focus on the needs of the community in the city where our convention takes place, and these service projects all revolve around sustainability. We want to better the community and also have a lasting effect,” said Cole, a student at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

“We selected sustainability projects because our research showed us that San Antonio has a sustainability plan, and we wanted to align our efforts with something ongoing and lasting,” said Karl Uzcategui, chair of the 2017 service project, and a student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.  

“As we researched our project, we learned Texas is the second hungriest state in the country, primarily because there are large clusters of citizens without access to healthy food,” Uzcategui said. “Because we wanted to do something to impact the entire community, we decided to work with a food bank. The San Antonio Food Bank works with 500 agencies—and that means it provides a long-lasting impact to the community.” 

More than 140 volunteers worked in the urban garden and in the warehouse, sorting and organizing food being prepared for those in need.

“We are so grateful for the precious gift of time. By giving of their time, the student volunteers help us to run a highly efficient hunger-fighting organization and the more efficient we are, the more people we can help in our community,” said Eric Cooper, CEO and president, San Antonio Food Bank. 

Other volunteers worked with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department at two locations.

“Our research showed us that 58 percent of San Antonio residents live within one mile of a park or open space, and that made us think of all the different parks and cleanup projects we do in our own communities,” Uzcategui said. “With so much of the population living near a park, we wanted to do what we could to make those clean and safe spaces within the community.”  

At Headwaters at Incarnate Word, students helped with maintenance and cleaning jobs.

“We are thrilled to have Circle K International’s help this week in our nature sanctuary,” said Alex Scott Antram, executive director, Headwaters at Incarnate Word. “The students helped with three important tasks: river litter clean up, trail maintenance and an invasive species removal project. As an organization and preserve, we promote environmental education and ecological restoration, and volunteers learned about ecosystem management while giving their time and energy in making the sanctuary beneficial to both wildlife and people.” 

Additional volunteer service took place at the Southwest Workers Union–Roots Community Garden, where students cleared brush and trees branches, organized reusable materials for future garden designs, removed old brick pavers and created a foundation for a new patio near the kitchen.

“Roots of Change Community Garden is a 10-year-old community-supported garden that is part of the Southwest Workers Union,” said Brian Gordon, food sovereignty coordinator. “We work towards growing food, growing knowledge within people and fighting for food justice in the San Antonio area. We’re excited to have the Circle K International volunteers on board to help us make a major impact in the garden design we have planned for our tenth anniversary this year.” 

At the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, students worked on landscaping projects, removing old plant material and cleaning around the mission’s drop-off sites. At the DoSeum, volunteers worked with kids.  

CKI has nearly 14,000 members in 17 nations around the world. The clubs are sponsored by Kiwanis International on a college or university campus, and provide students with multiple leadership and service opportunities. 


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