Circle K is the collegiate chapter of the Kiwanis family and is an international, community service organization that focuses on Service, Leadership, and Fellowship. Student Life sits down with some Rutgers Circle K members, Rachel Moseson, Stephen Pagkalinawan, Erica Back, Ricardo Mercader, Matt Ruffe, and Teddy John Wohlbold, to talk about their experiences.
I AM RU: So, tell us a little bit about Rutgers Circle K.
Rachel: As a club we focus a lot on local community service and reaching out to the community. A few of the ways we get involved within New Brunswick include tutoring at Lord Sterling Elementary, sorting packages at Feed the Children, and volunteering at Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. We also organize a lot of large-scale charity events that benefit local organizations such as the Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Specialized Hospital.
It’s great that we’re located in a city that allows us to give back in so many ways – whether it’s fundraising money, participating in a walk, or doing hands-on service, there’s constantly ways to lend a hand in the community.
I AM RU: What are some local charities that you guys are involved with?
Rachel: Ronald McDonald House. It’s definitely my favorite local charity because they have an admirable mission to house families who have children in the nearby hospital. It’s an affordable way to allow families to support their children on a daily basis when they need their families most. They embody what a charity should be.
I AM RU: What do you guys do with them?
Rachel: We’ve volunteered to cook dinner there before and we also collect soda can tabs. In the fall we also hosted an A cappella concert to benefit the Ronald McDonald House which raised over $1,000.
Stephen: For a while we also volunteered at Lord Sterling Elementary where we would help the kids with their homework after school. On Fridays when they didn’t have homework we would play games with them and just keep them company in general. They wore us out sometimes with all the running!
Rachel: One kid taught me how to salsa!
Erica: You really got to sit down with the kids and get to know them. The kids are a lot of fun and I got to jump rope, which I hadn’t done in a while.
Rachel: We also have a relationship with Feed the Children where we go to basically do aid packages with food, hygiene products.
Erica: We also try to plan service projects during meetings once or twice a month to keep members active in service even if they don’t have time to serve outside of the club meetings. We made coloring books and bilingual flash cards for students at Lord Sterling. We also made blankets for Project Linus, wrote letters to soldiers serving abroad, and made cards for children living in hospital.
I AM RU: I remember you guys saying you were also involved internationally. What kind of organizations do you work with on a larger scale?
Rachel: One of our biggest international focuses is UNICEF. Every year we go trick-or-treating for UNICEF with those little, orange, coin collection boxes. Kiwanis International, which is our parent organization, has also recently established the ELIMINATE Project with UNICEF in order to eliminate neonatal/maternal tetanus in countries all over the world.
Erica: We actually just co-hosted Dance to Eliminate with Rutgers in the Community and Rutgers UNICEF and raised over $1,800 towards the project! We had various dance groups, such as belly dancers, hip-hop teams, and cultural dance troupes, come together to perform for a single cause.
I AM RU: How about outside of all this service? Do you guys have any social events?
Ricardo: We do get together as a club outside of all our service events. We’ve planned dinners in the past, attended events at other NJ Circle K clubs, and also District Events such as a camping retreat weekend in early November. One of the biggest annual events is the District Convention which our club is hosting this year. It’s a ton of fun and we get to get dressed up in business wear and formal wear. The convention focuses a lot on the Leadership aspect of Circle K since District Officers are elected. The social aspect of Circle K really helps us become not just an organization but also a family.
I AM RU: So, going back to the beginning…why did you guys join Circle K?
Ricardo: I joined Circle K because I wanted to get involved in some way at Rutgers and I thought community service would be the best way. It caught my eye at the involvement fair and the people were really nice and encouraging.
Matt: I was really involved in my community in high school and coming into Rutgers as a freshman I didn’t know where to start. A few people in my dorm were in Circle K and they convinced me stop by a meeting. I thought it’d be a great way to get involved on campus and give back to the New Brunswick community.
Stephen: I joined Circle K because I was looking for an organization that did a wide-range of community service instead of just focusing on a single project.
Rachel: I loved my time in Key Club back in high school and I’ve been involved with Kiwanis since 7th grade; I wanted to continue working in the Kiwanis family so Circle K was a natural choice for me.
Teddy: Four years ago, a girl from my high school, encouraged me to join Circle K and I’ve been in love with the organization ever since. Circle K is an organization that functions primarily on community service and I love that it’s made up of individuals who have a passion for that and that share that kind of passion.
By: Jen Hsieh