The Ottumwa Courier

December 22, 2012

Iowa Kids University gets a boost and kids get a special gift

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — There’s just no getting around it. In this economy, some kids will be having a rough Christmas. But some of the kids in need at Iowa Kids University are going to have a much better Christmas than they thought they would.

“That’s because of the High Noon Kiwanis and South Ottumwa Savings Bank,” said Sue Huff, executive director of Iowa Kids.

She had 15 children in her mentorship program who would have had an extremely limited Christmas. After the Kiwanis president and a representative from South Ottumwa Savings Bank dropped off the gifts, Huff was able to give the gifts. But she didn’t give them to the children.

“We give them to the parents to give to the children,” she said. “These are hard working people who are providing for their family but just can’t squeeze the wallet for the extra to buy Christmas gifts.”

One woman is now raising three grandchildren.

“When I told her she’d have presents to give them, she began to cry,” Huff said.

She said the two organizations go above and beyond for the families. They buy the gifts, wrap them and of course, raise the money to buy them.

Kiwanis members put their spare change in a bucket all year so they can participate. South Ottumwa Savings Bank contributes and so do employees.  Once a month, if they want to come to work wearing blue jeans, they can donate $5 to a good cause.

“It’s so much more than just buying gifts,” Huff said. “They’ll take kids with them to help buy the right toys. “A lot of us old people don’t know what’s cool.”

Huff and her helpers go above and beyond, too. One mom has no place to hide surprises for the kids. She’s a single mother with five children, and they live in a trailer.

“We’re going to wait until they’re at church,” revealed Huff. “When they get back, they’ll see that Santa has already been there.”