Kiwanians gather in Natchez

Published 12:08 am Sunday, February 13, 2011

NATCHEZ— Approximately 300 people swarmed through the halls and conference rooms of the Natchez Convention Center Saturday, all with children in mind.

The Louisiana-Mississippi-West Tennessee District Kiwanis Club Mid-Winter Conference started Friday night and continued through Saturday.

Those in attendance, including approximately 15 Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club members, attended workshops on many of the club’s different projects, participated in raffles for charity and shared ideas with the different members at the conference.

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Kiwanis International Trustee Susan A. “Sue” Petrisin said Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers whose focus is to change children’s lives community by community.

“There are 250,000 members worldwide,” she said. “We are broken up into different districts so we can develop leaders locally.”

Petrisin said one of the main topics of discussion going on at the conference was Kiwanis International’s new program, Project Eliminate.

Petrisin said the project is aimed at eliminating maternal neonatal tetanus.

“There are currently 40 countries that are still affected by this problem,” she said. “Three injections of these tetanus shots into pregnant mothers can prevent the babies from having the disease.”

Kiwanis member Bob Blanchard from Baton Rouge said the three shots are 60 cents a piece, meaning it only takes $1.80 to help save a child’s life.

“That is not a lot of money for a vaccination to help someone live,” he said.

Blanchard said Kiwanis recently finished a program to help eliminate iodine deficiency among children.

“We accomplished that goal,” he said. “You never hear anything about it anymore.”

Kiwanis member Andy Anderson from Amite, La., said Kiwanis does hundreds of programs at all levels of the organization.

“We just recently went into all the schools in our area and placed (automated external) defibrillators in them so they could have something to help protect the children,” he said.

“We are all dedicated to changing the world.”

Anderson, Blanchard and Petrisin all said Kiwanis organizations are always looking for extra help from citizens in the community.

Petrisin said anyone interested in donating money to Project Eliminate can do so by going to their local Kiwanis club meeting or by logging onto of