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February 6, 2023
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Kiwanis brings Halloween to hospitalized children

On Oct. 22, to get into the holiday spirit, Los Gatos Kiwanis headed to Campbell for a “Trunk or Treat” event at CHoNC Pediatric Hospital, dressing up the back portions of vehicles with spooky decorations. It all went down in the parking lot of the general acute care hospital, which treats catastrophically injured and severely disabled children, according to the group’s president of Special Olympics Nancy Pearson.

“They came out in shifts,” she said of the young patients, who generally must follow strict diets (meaning candy is out of the question). “We’d have games for them to play, little gifts to hand out.”

The Kiwanis members picked different themes for the trunks. For example, Rex and Linda Upp went with a farming theme.

“They were dressed up also, and they handed out these little rubber duckies,” she said. “The kids loved them. They could hold them.”

The theme for another trunk was spiders.

And Pearson’s vehicle was turned into a pumpkin patch, complete with a game where kids toss bean bags into one of the gourds.

She says the children seemed to enjoy her interactive display.

“They were happy and thrilled,” she said, noting one boy even asked if he could experience the collection of trunks a second time. “He was just so excited. He wanted to see it again.”

When he returned, he was greeted with applause.

Now the club is gearing up for a partnership with the Sunday Friends Foundation.

“It was started by a woman in Los Gatos who was trying to teach her kids the value of community service and giving back,” Pearson said.

Los Gatos Kiwanis in Santa Cruz
Local Kiwanis held an installation meeting in Santa Cruz. (submitted)

The organization helps families grow their assets and reduce debts while building their confidence and empowering them to advocate for their needs.

Teaching youth the value of serving others is important, she says, noting the group has quite a few younger residents who donate their time as part of school organizations affiliated with the Kiwanis.

Those are: Los Gatos High School Key Club, Bellarmine Prep Key Club, Leigh High School Key Club, Prospect High School Key Club, Stratford Prep School Key Club, Fisher Middle School Builders Club, Daves Avenue Elementary K-Kids, Van Meter Elementary K-Kids, and Blue Hills Elementary K-Kids.

“I just got word today that they’re doing a donation drive for Sunday Friends, purely coincidental,” she said. “They have a big K-Kids Club at that elementary school.”

At a recent awards dinner the club surprised two members with Dunlap Fellowship Awards for community service.

“By awarding it to them our club gave a donation to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund,” she said, “—$1,000 for each one.”

They also installed Ernie Patterson, who’s been in the club since 1960, as president.

That lined up nicely with the Kiwanis Club of Los Gatos celebrating its 100th year serving the community.

“This was his fourth term now as president,” she said, adding each month a different past president will get to take the reins. “It feels great. You know, it’s funny because what I have found is there’s so many people that want to volunteer and do good.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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