It is a rare occasion that a newspaper IS the news of the day

We hope to become your new source of news, information and features about the people and places in the greater Olney area,

As it closes, Olney Kiwanis Club thanks community for supporting its service –


by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

The Kiwanis Club of Olney is saying goodbye and thanking the community for its support – a community it has served for 36 years.

The organization turned in its charter on Sept. 30, following its last official meeting on Sept. 27 at Montgomery Country Club.

Members decided to close the club due to dwindling participation.

The decline in membership is not a problem unique to the Olney Kiwanis Club, as service organizations nationwide are struggling to find and keep new members.

“Everyone is going through this. We just reached this point before some others,” club member Denny Heinbuch said. “There have been other Kiwanis Clubs in Montgomery County that have shut down.”

Heinbuch admits that having to disband the club makes him sad.

“I feel we’ve done a lot of good and provided a lot of support for the community,” he said. “It’s like the heart is there, but the body just won’t let it happen.”

The club peaked at more than 40 members, but dwindled to a handful of active participants.

During the past 36 years, the club has organized or supported many events, most notably the holiday toy collection program.

The event began with a holiday dance at Longwood Community Center, where toys were collected and donated to the Marine Corps through the Toys for Tots program.

Years later, the club formed its own foundation and continued with the Toys for Kids program. The club collected more than 100,000 toys and provided them to 25 local charities.

Mike Green, past president of the Olney Kiwanis Club and current president of the Olney Kiwanis Foundation, said the Kiwanians are grateful to the Olney Lions Club for agreeing to continue the worthy effort.

The Olney Kiwanis Club also successfully raised funds through a CPR certification program.

Green said that at one time, they had the largest CPR franchise in Maryland, with 12 instructors. That effort raised over $100,000 and trained over 5,000 people.

The club provided three Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) to Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church.

“With all monies going to charity, we funded scholarships at Sherwood and Magruder high schools every year, backpacks for Linkages to Learning, programs at RICA [Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents] and NIH [National Institutes of Health], and helped fund several large Kiwanis International programs, including the current Project Eliminate,” Green said.

They also sponsored Key Clubs at Sherwood and Magruder high schools, the Builders Club at Redland Middle School and the Cub Scout pack at Sequoia Elementary.

Service projects included road clean-up on Route 108 with Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, intersection beautification with Good Earth (northwest corner of routes 108 and 97), and repair and maintenance at the Montgomery County Coalition for Homeless Safe Haven.

Before closing the club, members planned for the projects or organizations they support.

“About a year ago, we realized that we were going to die a slow death or do it gracefully, so we started moving responsibilities to other individuals or clubs,” Green said. “We are very happy with the way we handled it.”

Other projects included producing “The Game of Olney,” a Monopoly-style game with 45 local businesses featured on the game board; organizing several 10K runs; and

supporting Olney Relay for Life, Olney Days Celebrations, after-prom events, Olney Theater building programs and Montgomery General Hospital clean-ups.

In 2016, one of the club’s members, Kelly Boswell, was elected governor of the Capital District, managing the efforts of all Kiwanians in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia.

Some of the members will transfer their membership to neighboring clubs, such as Wheaton, Bethesda and Gaithersburg.

In deciding to close its doors, the club made numerous large donations to local charities, including Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Our House, local church discretionary funds, NIH, Manna Food, Linkages to Learning and Montgomery General Hospital Thrift Shop, Green said.

“We close with great sadness, but also with much pride in the help we have provided to children and needy families,” he said. “We also know that we could not have been successful without the support of the Olney community. We send a big thank you for your generous support over the years.”

Advertise With Us

The Greater Olney News reaches more than 20,000 homes and businesses through the U.S. Postal Service and hundreds more are dropped at businesses and popular gathering spots.

For a media kit, deadlines, rates and other advertising information, call 240-454-5648.

Read More