Early Bird Kiwanis Club gives back through fundraiser

Hannibal Early Bird Kiwanis Club member Stephanie Himmel smiles as she hands a meal to Matt Davis on Friday. The local tradition of a pulled pork sandwich or butterfly pork chop meal helps club members support youth in the area.

HANNIBAL — The Y Men’s Pavilion was filled with activity Friday for the Early Bird Kiwanis Club Pork Dinner fundraiser.

Club members served carry-out, drive-thru and dine-in meals during a busy lunch hour. Harry Graves said there was a large crowd of people eating at the outdoor tables this year.

Club president Emily Dexheimer said the turnout was strong, noting how happy she was to see people dining together and socializing again. The drive-thru option has been very popular as well.

Club members prepared pulled-pork sandwich and butterfly porkchop sandwich meals, took orders and joked with one another. Each person was happy for the chance to take part in the local tradition.

Club members were prepared to serve a large number of guests for dinner time. Dexheimer said the goal is around 900 tickets, and results looked positive after lunch.

“Everything that we can make off of this, we give back to the community — we give back to the kids in the community in particular,” she said. “It’s the reason we try to keep on coming out here and doing it.”

Robert O. Parker said the meal has been served for about 45 years. He moved to Hannibal about 60 years ago, and he remembered looking for a service group to join and give back.

He remembered how the early morning meeting time was ideal so he could take care of his family and give back to youth in the area.

Parker said his “prayer was answered” when he joined the club. The membership includes many men and women who share a desire to give back to the community.

Dexheimer has witnessed growth in the club in the past few years, and she loves being part of a group featuring “generations of people working together for a common goal.” Graves, Parker and Dexheimer reflected the club’s dynamic as they laughed together.

“People like working on the fundraisers. I think they like it more than coming to meetings,” he said with a laugh.

Dexheimer said everyone has a great time together. Parker agreed, stressing how they are all dedicated to supporting youth with everything they do.

Matt Davis pulled up to enjoy a meal and support their efforts. He enjoys the meals “all the time.”

“It’s been a really good group of people over the years and something we just do, and it’s always good food,” he said.

Roy Hark mentioned how Early Bird Kiwanis Club members support youth with hats and mittens for Hannibal Head Start students; the third-grade dictionary program for students in Hannibal public schools; Holy Family School and St. John’s Lutheran School; programs for students at Mississippi Valley State School; scholarships for Hannibal High School graduates; support for HMS Builders Club members; youth Scouting programs and Project Graduation.

Club members are active in at least 25 other programs for youth in the area.

“Everything we do, we do for that group right there,” Hark said, pointing to a sign listing some of the youth programs. “The kids.”

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