Los Lunas Rotary improves wardrobe of 45 to 50 children

 While the latest toy is a great thing to have, one Los Lunas service organization is helping children throughout the school district buy things that they will be able to use every day–new clothes and shoes.
For nearly 15 years, the Los Lunas Rotary Club has provided $100 for each child recommended by school counselors across the district.
Rotary member Sandy Schauer said this year the club had between 45 and 50 children able to shop for an afternoon with their parents or guardians at Walmart in Los Lunas.
For Karin Vansteenburg, a single mom with three kids at home, this is the first time her family has participated. The school counselor called and asked if they would be interested. The answer was yes.
"Their dad is good about helping out, but things have been really, really tight this year," Vansteenburg said. "It’s been getting harder and harder and I’ve had to do some things I don’t usually do, like going to food banks."
Member Del Conroy said the shopping trip is an evolution of a project where the club collected winter coats for local children. He points out this was way before KOAT-TV began their own coat project.
The 27 member Los Lunas club participates in projects throughout the year, including giving every third grader in the district a dictionary–every year, every third grader.
"Once you start something like that, you can’t just stop," Conroy said of the dictionary project.
Rotarians distribute the dictionaries at each school and talk to the students about the importance of school and words. This year 650 dictionaries were given out to the students.
The Los Lunas chapter also sponsors a high school student every year, sending him or her to the organization’s leadership camp and awards an annual scholarship of $2,500.
And the club participates in projects that impact children around the world, such as a clean drinking water project in Africa.
Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide.
Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace and eradicate polio under the motto "Service Above Self."
Member George Hobbs said he really wished the club could help more.
"We have all been blessed in our lives and you need to give back to the community that’s helped you," Hobbs said.
When asked why they do it, Hobbs said. "Because that’s what we’re here for. Rotary spends a lot of money on kids. It’s just so much fun to watch the kids. They really appreciate it."
To prove his point, Hobbs receives a huge hug and smile from one young shopper before she heads home with some new additions to her wardrobe.