by: ELLEN SPITALERI Members of the Oregon City Kiwanis Club recently spent several days sprucing up the front yard of Ogden Middle School on S. Donovan Road in Oregon City.

It may be a little early to be thinking about back to school, but when students return to Ogden Middle School in the fall, they will be pleasantly surprised by the landscaping at the entrance to the building.

A group of volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Oregon City recently spent several days removing weeds from the area by the front door of the school, putting down bark dust and planting roses, a vine maple and other greenery. Small planter boxes were filled with colorful annuals, and artfully placed boulders completed the handsome look of the small plot near the flagpole.

The Kiwanians chose to do this project, said member Jerry Wilfong, because Ogden Principal Libby Miller came to speak to the group last spring and said the area close to the entrance needed sprucing up.

The group knows that schools are in trouble because of budget cuts, and members felt that cleaning up the area would 'improve the kids' pride in the school,' Wilfong added.

Chantell Bunker, who, with her husband Steve, is a new member of the Kiwanis Club of Oregon City, said the board allotted $300 for the project, and they then reached out to the community for donations.

'My cousin, Pat Hardisty, owns Exstream Landscaping in Happy Valley; he donated the boulders and then he and Steve came out and placed them,' she said.

Wilfong recently had Adrian's Quality Fencing build a composite deck, and the owner donated the extra pieces so the Kiwanians could build the planter boxes.

'We added the boxes as a border so the kids would know this is not a play area. We planted annuals, but the kids could plant bulbs in the fall,' he said, noting that Sunnyside Nursery gave the group a good deal on the vine maple.

Community service

Kiwanis Club is an international organization of volunteers who dedicate time to helping children and communities.

Bunker said she joined the club after her daughter, Mikayla, twice won the Terrific Kids award at Beavercreek Elementary School.

To win the award, children have to demonstrate that they 'have a great attitude, are good role models and are responsible and respectful,' she said. Each school nominates students for the award and the program is now part of five schools in Oregon City. In addition to Beavercreek, participating schools include Candy Lane, Gaffney Lane, Jennings Lodge and Mt. Pleasant elementary schools.

After she joined, her husband 'fell in love with the group,' she added.

Laura Parsons, who is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Oregon City and president of the Kiwanis Club of Damascus-Boring, said that the group devotes itself to local, national and international issues.

'We find a thing we are passionate about and we work on it until the problem is solved. We make a difference one club at a time,' she said.

The local organizations that the OC Kiwanians support include the OCHS Key Club, Meals on Wheels, Oregon City Relay for Life, the Children's Center for abused children and the Oregon City Food Bank.

The club's biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up at the Clackamas County Fair next month in Canby, where the group sells hot dogs and corn dogs, and all proceeds go to Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Wilfong said.

In fact, '100 percent of the money we earn in the community goes back to the community,' Parsons added.

The group would welcome more members, she said, noting that the Kiwanis Club of Oregon City meets every Thursday, from noon to 1 p.m. at Jimmy O's Pizza in Oregon City.

She added, 'You meet such wonderful people and there is something for everyone. We have a camp up at Mt. Hood so that children with disabilities can discover what their abilities are - it is a life-changing experience.'

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