By Tamas Mondovics

Kiwanis, the organization known for its commitment and dedication to children worldwide, is celebrating 100 years of serving children. Founded in Detroit, Mich., Kiwanis has grown to include approximately 600,000 members globally.

With more than 18 million volunteer hours under its belt, the organization raises more than $107 million annually for communities and children.

Most residents know Kiwanis through its multiple fundraising events, hosted by local chapters through programs such as Stuff the Bus, Terrific Kids, K-Kids, Key Clubs, Books Works (a partnership with Good Will), Project Smile (a partnership with Mosaic and Feeding America) and Ringing the Bell (a partnership with the Salvation Army).

Proud to represent the 40-member Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, Dustie Amatangelo emphasized the group’s unconditional commitment in supporting the larger organization’s mission.

“Locally we are serving children in Seffner, Dover, Mango, Valrico, Riverview, Summerfield, Bloomingdale, FishHawk, and the heart of Brandon,” Amatangelo said.

Since its establishment in May 1960, The Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon has been busy.

While its main platform is the Terrific Kids leadership and character recognition program, the group in Brandon has also partnered with Goodwill Suncoast Bookworks to read and give books to 11 Head Start, ESE and Pre-K classes.

The club also continues to participate in Emergency Care Help Organization of Brandon food drives, the Brandon 4th of July parade as well as partnering with Mosaic and Feeding America Tampa Bay providing weekend food for students in need at Gibsonton Elementary.

Most recently, the Kicks for Kids project has provided more than 80 pairs of shoes to schools with children in need, while the club was also proud of contributing to “A Night of a Thousand Stars,” a formal event for physically and mentally challenged people of all ages who never had a chance to attend their own prom.

Thanks to the hard work of its members, Kiwanis Therapy Center at Joshua House in Lutz was successfully completed. The project took three years supported by $150,000 raised to purchase building materials.

Showing their support in celebrating 100 years, Kiwanis chapters, including the Brandon club, are planning on hosting a number of events such as a parade, fireworks, and a 100th birthday party.

Under its current President Janet Daigle, Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon meets on Thursdays at 8 a.m. to discuss ways to serve the community at the Golden Corral restaurant located at 815 Providence Rd.

Visit www.brandonkiwanis.com.