Without more help, the civic club cannot continue its programming, fundraising

Since 1979, the Sandy Optimist Club has invested in local youth and families in need. Now the Optimists need volunteers to invest in the club.

Without additional members and volunteers, Sandy Optimists cannot continue to provide the Sandy community with fundraising and programming.

Bill Wardy, Sandy Optimist president-elect, said the club has had to cancel its Christmas tree lot this year due to a lower number of members, and its other programs could be in jeopardy.

'We're getting older, and we need help,' Wardy said. 'If we're gone, a lot of kids won't get the support we've provided.'

Wardy joined Sandy Optimists 28 years ago, when a friend invited him. He'd been an active volunteer throughout his life but wanted to become more involved in the community after moving to Sandy in 1973.

'I get pumped by helping young people,' Wardy said. 'This is the only thing I've joined and stayed with.'

Lori Felix, the secretary-treasurer, and her husband, Bob, a member of the board of directors, said the 'incredible kids' they've met through their 17 years with Sandy Optimists fuel their work with the club.

They especially love the Christmas basket program, in which they 'adopt' families, providing them food and presents during the holidays.

'It brings tears to your eyes,' Bob Felix said.

Without more volunteers, he said the Sandy Optimist Club might lose the holiday program, too.

Beyond the Christmas tree lot and basket program, the club has provided the 'Forget-me-not' program, which buys backpacks for low-income youth; the music program, which sponsors band and choir students for trips and camps; the bike building program, providing bikes for youth; yearly scholarships for graduating Sandy students; and essay and oratorical contests.

To become a volunteer or member, Wardy encourages Sandy residents to attend a meeting, and learn about the Optimists' programs. He said the club has a symbiotic relationship with other civic groups such as the Kiwanians and Future Farmers of America.

Lori Felix described the club as an extended family and great way to make a difference for children in the community.

'There are a lot of people who are just tied up with their own lives,' Bob Felix said. 'They think they are too busy to get involved in something else. It's those people who are so active who are the best members because they know how to budget their time and get things done.'

To get involved or learn more, call Bill Wardy at 503-668-7126 or visit Club meetings this year will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays , downstairs at the Senior Center.

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