Each week, members and volunteers with Aktion Club of Stanwood-Camano gather to create fuzzy fleece blankets for a local charity.

The blankets are just one of the many layers of the service club, part of Kiwanis for adults with disabilities.

“It’s awesome being a member because not only do I get to hang out with my friends, I get to give back to my community,” member Kristofer Niehouse said.

Aktion Club, which started nationally in 1987, first took root in the Stanwood-Camano area eight years ago and now boasts 36 members ages 20 to 55. It’s one of more than 500 chapters and 12,000 members worldwide.

“We are a robust group but we consistently do outreach to raise awareness of who we are and what we do.” volunteer Carolyn Cross said. “We want our community to know that we are here to serve and that new members are always welcome.”

The club, open to adults with a disabilities ages 18 and older, has developed programs that members — or clubbers as they like to be called — find fulfilling and meaningful, Cross said.

“We do service projects throughout the year that not only help support and raise money for local charities but these projects also provide adults living with disabilities the opportunity to develop initiative, leadership skills and build self-esteem and confidence,” Cross said.

The club participates in electronics recycling services, bake sales, toiletry drives, Salvation Army holiday bell ringing and volunteering at the annual Kiwanis Salmon BBQ.

“I love meeting new people and making friends — the club is just such a great place to do this,” said Jessica Patrick, who has been with Aktion Club for six years. “The service projects are so important. I enjoy helping with the Salmon BBQ and making the blankets. I know that I’m making a difference in my community.”

After a recent meeting, Aktion Club members got to work on creating more blankets.

“Our goal is to make 200 fleece blankets for families in need that will be available at the Caring Place in Stanwood,” Cross said. “We’ve already completed 36, so we are well on our way.”

The Caring Place, hosted in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, provides clothing, toiletries and other items to families in need at no charge. Mardi Jorgensen, a volunteer who manages the Caring Place, said that support from the Aktion Club is invaluable.

“The Aktion Club has just been so wonderful to the Caring Place. Throughout the year, the willingness of the members to help is amazing,” she said. “Whether standing in front of QFC collecting donated toiletries or making sure families get much needed blankets, they are just so dependable.”

The members are active year round, Cross said.

“Our clubbers are very dedicated, and over the years we have raised thousands of dollars and provided hundreds of service hours to local organizations like the Caring Place, the Community Resource Center of Stanwood-Camano, Special Olympics and the YMCA,” Cross said.

Brandon Edmonds, vice president of dignity and respect, said the hard work can be fun, too.

“I have so much fun being a part of Aktion Club, and I’ve made many friends. I also like being vice president and helping out during the meetings,” he said. “I think it’s great that we are all here to support each other, too.”

The Aktion Club also provides outreach service to Stanwood High School’s Transition program. The program serves adult students ages 18-21 by providing job skill training.

“Aktion Club has been very supportive of our program and we are grateful for their support,” Stanwood High teacher Margaret Fry said.

Tristen Tanners, social secretary for Aktion Club, particularly enjoys these meetings.

“I tell the students how much fun our club is and how good it feels to give back to the community by helping other,” Tanner said. “I let them know they are welcome to join us anytime.”

Contact the Community Resource Center at 360-629-5257 to find out more about Aktion Club.

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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