The Eliminate Project donation cans that are sprouting up throughout the community are part of the Denton Breakfast Kiwanis’ latest mission to help newborns and their mothers in Third World countries.
The fundraising campaign will help provide tetanus shots to expectant mothers to prevent their newborns from contracting the disease, said Joe Holland, the project chairman for the local organization.
“Mothers deliver kids and the umbilical cord is cut with unsterilized instruments, causing the deadly disease,” Holland said.
According to Kiwanis International and UNICEF, partners in the national campaign, tetanus kills nearly 60,000 babies and a significant number of women each year. Newborns suffering the disease experience repeated, painful convulsions and have extreme sensitivity to light and touch.
Holland said that it takes three inoculations before delivery to protect women and children.
“Each inoculation is just 60 cents each,” he said. “$1.80 to protect lives is something I think we can all chip in on.”
Chip in, they have.
In October, the Breakfast Kiwanis voted to become a “model club” for the nationwide effort and is the only Kiwanis Club in the North Texas region to take on the task so far.
Holland said each of the 42 members has agreed to contribute $150 per year for the next five years.
“Our little breakfast club,” he said. “It is a relative commitment for a large club.”
Denton Breakfast Kiwanis didn’t immediately get on board when the initiative launched at the Kiwanis International Convention a couple of years ago but has been working on fundraising efforts for the past several months.
Donation cans throughout the county are collected and brought in by members once a week at the group’s Wednesday meetings at El Chaparral Grille on East McKinney Street.
Holland said all money raised from the public goes directly to providing the vaccines.
“We have two separate accounts — one for money raised for our charities and one that is ours for member dues that we use to pay our administrative costs with,” he said during a recent interview.
“We are committed to giving back the full percentage of monies donated.”
To eradicate maternal neonatal tetanus worldwide, more than 100 million mothers and their future children need to be immunized, according to the International Kiwanis website.
The Breakfast Kiwanis are still very early on in the campaign and are committed to serving their local programs, as well as the international effort.
“Boundaries don’t end at the city limit sign,” Holland said. “We are a global community and that person we save with a shot could very well be a future student at Texas Woman’s University or University of North Texas. Nowadays, that’s not a hard reach when seeking education.”
To learn more about the Eliminate Project, the public is invited to attend the Feb. 19 meeting starting at 6:30 a.m. at El Chaparral Grille, where Francine Eikner, chairperson for the Texas/Oklahoma Kiwanis Eliminate project, will be the guest speaker.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.