Pictured are John Stoller and daughter, Faith, who ran the raffle at the Service Club breakfast on Saturday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Pictured are John Stoller and daughter, Faith, who ran the raffle at the Service Club breakfast on Saturday. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – A large group of Van Wert and area residents showed their full support for the Van Wert Service Club on Saturday by attending a breakfast/brunch in the cafeteria at the Van Wert High School cafeteria.

The club, originally known as “Sartoma,” joined forces with the Kiwanis Club in 2007 to form the newly named Van Wert Service Club.

“This is a good fund-saving thing,” said club member Jim Covey, who has belonged to the local organization for 35 years.

Covey said that a form of the organization has been in existence for over 50 years. He noted that the local organization is currently made up of 40 men and women who handle various problems and needs as they arise in the community.

One of the organization’s best-known efforts is the R.K. Thompson Awards presented to area seniors who "does the best with what he/she has." Covey said that club members interview the seniors and their community efforts. Eventually the group is narrowed down to five students. Those five are guaranteed $500 from the club. The one chosen as the “winner” of the effort receives $1,000.

“We don’t tell them how they have to spend that money, but we know that most of them utilize their gifts for higher education," said Covey.

The pancake breakfast is an annual event toward raising money for the club’s treasury. Another major fund-raiser is a reverse raffle.

“We take the money and put it back into the community,” said Covey. “We support numerous non-profits and causes recognized in the Van Wert area.”

Covey said his 35-year commitment to the club represents his love for helping others and the warm appreciation he has experienced for working side by side with other club members

“I have met so many great businessmen and residents of the area who have joined to help out the community over the years,” said Covey.

In addition to giving toward specific needs, there are also long-term projects such as sponsoring speech and hearing classes during the summer.

“The hearing instruction for county children allows these kids to continue working with a speech and hearing therapist during the summer,” said Covey. “When they do that, they don’t fall back between the time they leave school in the spring and go back in the summer.”

Covey noted that the club meets every Wednesday at noon at Willow Bend.

“Each member is in charge of a program sometime,” said Covey. “Quite often our special speaker is someone who has asked for help. By hearing them explain their needs, it gives some idea of how we can help them.”