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Kiwanis seeking new members

Kiwanis is about kids.

Worldwide, Kiwanis International focuses on large-scale issues like fighting disease and poverty. Locally, Kiwanis helps to keep the children in our community safe, happy and healthy.

Returning from a hiatus, new president Faye Howell is determined to get the club back on track.

With four goals, Howell and her team are determined to promote Kiwanis, enhance and grow membership, support community activities and help protect the earth for the future.

Thanks to her background in education, Howell was able to shift into gear quickly and adapt to present conditions.

“When I came in, it seemed like people had no idea what Kiwanis was about and I set out to change that,” Howell said. “Although we had present members, they were not attending meetings. By contacting those people and recruiting other members, we are starting to see a great increase in our numbers. In fact, our attendance at our meetings has more than doubled this year alone.”

Rather than working against other community leadership groups, Howell and her team partner with other clubs and organizations to extend their reach and meet the needs of the community.

“We take care of the adults that take care of our children,” Howell added. “It’s about being active in the community and working together.”

Taking initiative, Kiwanis partnered with Rotary Club to co-sponsor the Imagination Library program in the community; 933 children in the Campbellsville-Taylor County community are registered to receive free books in the mail from birth to age 5.

“There is no success without literacy,” Howell said. “We have to be willing to invest in our children and their education to ensure that they have the best future that they can have.”

Emphasizing the importance of future planning, the Campbellsville Kiwanis Club is dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling plastic.

“It takes 400 years for a piece of plastic to disintegrate,” Howell said. “One thing that Kiwanis is doing is bringing plastic bags to be made into mats for the homeless. We accumulated a 55-gallon trash bag stuffed full of plastic bags that were then taken to be made into mats. At each meeting, we take sacks to repurpose and other plastic items to take to the recycling center for those that have difficulty going to the center themselves.”

Constantly raising money and collecting and donating items, Kiwanis also donates non-perishable goods to Blessing Boxes around town, books to Green River Ministries and the Little Library behind the old courthouse and cleaning and hygiene items to Green River Ministries.

Through these donations, Kiwanis is directly impacting the local community and making a difference.

Student-centered donations also include bicycles, backpack food program items, books, clothing and scholarships.

Kiwanis is a non-profit organization, so all donations and contributions to the club are tax deductible.

“Anyone, or any business, can attend and/or donate to our club. Businesses can become sponsors as well,” Howell added.

Kiwanis Club meets the first and third Tuesday of each month in the upstairs of Creekside at noon.

Howell invites any community or business to attend a meeting and get involved.

“Come join us in all of our efforts to support the children of Taylor County.”

Outgoing Campbellsville Mayor Diane Ford-Benningfield waves as she rides in a carriage down Main. See more photos on PAGES A6-7.

CTCEMS asks for donations to Virgil's Christmas

Campbellsville-Taylor County EMS is gathering monetary and gift card donations for the fourth annual Virgil’s Christmas.

Dozens of residents at nursing homes are left to themselves all year but many are especially lonely during the holiday season, like longtime resident of Campbellsville Nursing and Rehab, Virgil Estes. A 40-year resident, Estes passed away in 2020.

Paying tribute to Estes by meeting the physical, mental and emotional needs of these patients, Renee Taylor, CTCEMS director, and other employees created Virgil’s Christmas to remember and cherish those that are overlooked.

“Sometimes the people in the nursing homes get forgotten,” Taylor said. “These residents don’t ask for much, and it’s always the simplest gifts that bring the most joy.”

Virgil’s Christmas aims to give every lonesome resident a personal gift to remind them that they are being thought of “by giving them what they ask for, it reminds them that people are actually thinking about them and that people do care about them,” Taylor added.

More than money can buy, Virgil’s Christmas is not only special to the residents who receive presents, but to those that deliver them.

“The thing that stands out to me and to all of the employees are the tears,” Taylor said. “They all get so happy and overwhelmed that we go through all of the effort to bring our trucks and our Christmas sweaters and come out to see them.”

Although the number of residents in need of family varies each year, CTCEMS tries to accommodate around 50 gifts.

“Last year, we collected just over $2,000 and that took care of every resident that I was given a name for. Anything left over is always kept in the account for the next year, or if throughout the year we see that a resident is in need, we have those funds to help provide.”

To ensure residents are treated equally, all monetary donations and gift cards received are divided evenly to make sure that no one feels underserved.

“We want gift cards or monetary donations rather than actual ‘gifts’ so that we can get the residents things that they actually ask for,” Taylor said. “But we will never turn away gifts of blankets, large print books, slippers or the like.”

Taylor encouraged the community to take time to give back by inviting the public to help drop off gifts.

Those interested in donating time and/or money can reach out for more information by visiting the EMS Station at 105 S. Columbia Ave. or calling 270-789-3135.

“It truly is a wonderful experience; it’s humbling,” Taylor said. “It’s a reminder to not forget those that can be so easily forgotten.”

Day of Giving set for Friday at three stores

The Campbellsville Rotary Club will be having its annual Day of Giving from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. this Friday at three local locations.

“The Day of Giving allows anyone and everyone to be a part of something much bigger than any one person or organization,” Rotary president Allen Gaddis said. “It’s very simple really, when you donate a can of food, you are allowing another person, a fellow human being the opportunity to eat. What a blessing that is, to be able to contribute to the most basic need that we have: food.”

Rotarians will be set up at Campbellsville Walmart, Kroger and IGA collecting items for the food pantry. Suggested items for donation include: peanut butter, sweet peas, corn, mixed vegetables, macaroni and cheese, green beans, dried beans, spaghetti, canned spaghetti sauce, cans of soup and ramen noodles.

Monetary donations also will be accepted.

GROUND ZERO: Pendleton wants to help

Conlee Pendleton is dedicated to keeping kids off drugs.

A recovering addict of 15 years, Pendleton has been clean for three but has a lifetime to go.

Dedicated to sober living, Pendleton decided to open Ground Zero HQ, a drug and alcohol-free space for kids and teens to mix, mingle and play.

“I have always lived in Campbellsville and as I’ve grown up, everything that we had as kids have started disappearing,” Pendleton said “We had the skating rink, we could go cruising, we had the pool. Kids now don’t have anything to do or anywhere to go and that’s dangerous.”

Drawing from his past, Pendleton knew that addiction often started in childhood.

“A lot of drug use starts at a really early age,” Pendleton said. “It always starts young, usually watching parents and people around them use and buy.”

Targeting a younger audience than traditional D.A.R.E. officers, Pendleton and a few friends in recovery decided to head out to the projects and try to change the narrative.

“It started with us giving out Popsicles,” Pendleton laughed. “Every Sunday, we would load up and head out and give out little goodies and talk with the kids, teens and parents and try to get to know what they needed.”

Pinpointing “hotspots” for drug trafficking and usage, Pendleton and his crew took it upon themselves to steer people away from the areas, encouraging other activities, like basketball and skating.

“We knew that we needed somewhere for kids to go because the streets weren’t safe,” Pendleton said. “I have a successful auto mechanic business and I had the extra cash to rent a space, so we took a chance and started Ground Zero.”

Stemming from the military term, Pendleton intended for Ground Zero HQ to serve as a central location easily accessible for the community.

Stepping inside the finished garage, walls are lined with arcade, video games and Nerf guns. The center of the space is open for Nerf gun battles, dance parties, tag and more.

For only $10, kids and teens can play for an unlimited amount of time, with free play on all arcade, video and table games.

“Opening Ground Zero HQ was more of an opportunity for me to grow my ministry; what God wanted me to do deep down,” Pendleton said. “I feel like I’m back on track with where I am supposed to be headed. This place keeps me off the streets and I love connecting with people, with families and people in need. I want to help people.”

In addition to providing a safe space for kids and teens, Pendleton also opens his space to those in active recovery.

Ground Zero HQ is at 285 Old Greensburg Road off West Broadway.

“Being here off of the main drag, the guys that are in treatment over at The Healing Place walk down this road,” Pendleton explained. “And one day, I invited them in and it stuck. So we do meetings here on Wednesday nights, Friday and Saturday. It’s something that is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve been there and being real with them, sharing my struggles and hearing theirs helps me to stay on track and remember why I opened this place.”