By Mike Pound
While there have been a few changes to the annual Joplin Kiwanis Club apple sale, the overall goal remains the same as it was when the first sale took place in 1966.
“We’re not selling the apples to make money,” said Steve Doerr. “We’re selling them to give kids opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Steve is heading up this year’s sale. When I asked Steve what a guy has to do to make it to the top apple-selling spot, he said, “You have to be lucky enough to volunteer and then get stuck with the job.”
I thought that was funny.
The annual apple sale grew out of a desire by several Joplin men to help the Tri-County Cerebral Palsy Center not just thrive, but grow. At the time, the center was operating out of a small home located behind the old Freeman Hospital, and it was clear to just about everyone that there was a great need to expand the services the center provided. That’s when the Kiwanis Club stepped in.
In 1966, Bob Higgins, Victor Cerwert, Earl McElfresh and John Stuart drove to Springfield to talk to Kiwanis Club members in that city about their apple sale. The four brought what they learned back to Joplin, and with that the Joplin tradition was born.
In 1966, the first Kiwanis apple sale in Joplin raised $1,600. Now, the amount of money raised tends to fall between $15,000 and $40,000. In 1966, the Cerebral Palsy Center was the lone recipient of the proceeds. Today, the Joplin Kiwanis Club donates the money raised by the sale to a diverse group of programs geared for kids of all ages.
Steve said money still goes to the CP Center, and proceeds also are given to the Boys & Girls Club, Special Olympics, the Salvation Army Christmas party and the Joplin High School Key Club. The club also helps with Christmas parties at Joplin elementary schools and funds scholarships at Missouri Southern State University.
The neat thing about the way the Kiwanis Club divides the proceeds from the apple sale is that the money goes to a wide range of kids. Steve said it is such a wide range that many of today’s Kiwanis Club members likely benefited from the apple sale, in some fashion or another, when they were kids. It’s sort of a neat full circle kind of deal.
Steve said Kiwanis members are now taking orders for apples. Once the club gets an idea of how many apples will be needed, the orders will be placed with a company in Washington state. In the past, the club has ordered red delicious and golden delicious apples; this year, the decision was made to order red and, for the first time, gala apples.
“Every year we look at ways we can improve our product and make our customers happy, and so this year we decided to add the gala apples,” Steve said.
A bushel of apples will cost $50. For those of you who are not fluent in bushel talk, there are 100 apples in a bushel. A half-bushel is $30, and a peck (a quarter of a bushel) is $25.
Steve said folks also may combine their apple purchase with gift baskets from Richardson Candy House. Gift baskets range from $25 to $40.
Once the apples are ordered, Steve said, they will arrive in Joplin in early December and will be delivered to customers on Dec. 5, 6 and 7.
If you haven’t yet been approached by a Kiwanis Club member and would like to order apples, you may call 417-529-3730.
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