Over the past century the Kiwanis Club of Plant City has been at the helm of several impactful service projects.
It was July of 1921 that prominent civic leaders in the young city of Plant City, Florida, became the fifth Kiwanis Club in the State of Florida. Kiwanis International was formed in 1915 in Detroit as a fraternal organization but quickly became a civic and service oriented club. The Kiwanis Club of Plant City wasted no time getting into action.
In 1922 the 60-member club voted unanimously to take the case to the County Commission to halt the sale of a ten-acre plot of land on the west side of town. It was a parcel of the John L. Branch farm and the Kiwanis members stated that it would better serve the citizens of this eastern section of Hillsborough by its use for a baseball ground and other public uses.
In 1925 “the Kiwanis club of Plant City was granted a deed to 10 acres of land in that city this morning when William Schneider, of Plant City, and an officer in the Plant City Kiwanis club, presented a plat of the land agreed upon…The board granted the Kiwanis club the use of the 10-acre tract for a baseball ground and other public uses.” (The Tampa Times, 8.21.1925). With the assistance of Sam Adelson, it became Adelson Field.
In the offing already was an effort initiated in 1924 by the Kiwanis Club of Plant City to revive the defunct Board of Trade and to promote Plant City. Most of the townspeople were motivated and in a weeks’ time 492 members were signed up for the new East Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce.
The next project prompted by the Kiwanis and now the new Chamber of Commerce was the new hotel project. The new Hotel Plant was constructed and opened in 1926. Kiwanis and Chamber membership overlapped, and many of the three hundred stockholders of the Hotel Plant belonged to one or both organizations. (Bruton and Bailey’s Plant City; Its Origin and History).
Kiwanis was on a roll and focused then on the city government system.
Here is the quote from the Bruton and Bailey book: “Perhaps the most significant happening in the 1920s was the change to a commission-manager form of government in 1927. This change was initiated by the Kiwanis Club and supported by the Chamber of Commerce.”
The principal purpose for its drafting was to better organize the structure of government.
In the summer of 1926 Kiwanians Henry Huff and Henry Moody led the new Commission Government Club. One of the attorneys working of the new charter was Kiwanian John R. Trinkle. It passed in 1927 and the new form of government continues today.
In 1929, when Albert Schneider, President of the newly formed Plant City Lions Club and brother to Kiwanian William Schneider, proposed the idea of holding a festival to promote the area’s strawberry production, the Kiwanis Club voted unanimously to join in support of the Strawberry Festival and continues to support the city’s famous festival every year.
Since the early years, the Kiwanis Club of Plant City has held numerous fundraisers to fund programs from support of the new hospital, to the Boy Scouts, James Ranch, Stepping Stone Farm, health fairs, Headstart, Special Olympics, Little League, and more.
Today, the Kiwanis Club programs include:
• Stuff the Bus through which over 1200 backpacks, full of school supplies, are delivered to area schools.
- Christmas for an Angel delivering thousands of toys to needy children in the community.
• Read Around the World providing adult reading sessions and free books to preschool children.
• Terrific Kids, recognizing elementary school students.
• Builders Club and Gentleman’s Quest for middle school students.
- Citizen of the Year
• Key Clubs for high school students.
Today’s Kiwanis Club of Plant City continues the leadership role begun 100 years ago and thanks the community partners who have made all its service programs possible.