Circle K International holds Luminaries literacy event

Circle K International holds Luminaries literacy event
Laura Shill / University of Alabama Photograph

Photo courtesy of Eric Powers. 

Circle K will hold its 41st annual UA Luminaries event this Sunday, Nov. 22, from 5 to 9 p.m. on the quad to fundraise for Reading is Fundamental, an organization focused on illiteracy.

A branch of the Kiwanis organization, Circle K focuses on making a difference in a wide variety of ways, whether it be with dogs at the local animal shelter, with kids at "Arts ‘n Autism" or in the battle against illiteracy.

“We don’t like to just give back once and call it done,” Circle K President Eric Powers said. “We like to make sustainable service projects that can actually make an impact on these people’s lives forever.”

The funds raised at Sunday’s event will go towards buying books for kids, including some who don’t have any reading material in their households. Powers said it is important to raise awareness because the illiteracy rate is growing every year. Circle K is trying to combat that by working with children and adults in head start programs to improve not only their reading skills, but their life as well.

“We’re trying to get to where these people can not only have reading proficiencies, but, you know, be awesome just in general with everything in life,” Powers said.

Last year Circle K decorated the quad with about 1,200 candles for the event. This year, Powers hopes to spread out about 3,000.

“By lighting that candle, that’s kind of like the spark of a kid being able to actually read for the first time,” Powers said, “being able to understand what life is all about through reading.“

Circle K’s influence extends outside of combating illiteracy. Circle K has held many events throughout the year to raise awareness for their service projects, including the 9/11 memorial, laps for Cystic Fibrosis and other projects around Alabama. Powers said Circle K eliminated a disease a few years ago and are now trying to do the same with neonatal tetanus—a disease that’s completely curable but just lacks funding. Vice President Weston Goode said the interaction with the members of Circle K and the many different people they serve is the best part of being in the organization.

“I thoroughly enjoy seeing the tangible impacts of our service on the lives of those around us,” Goode said.

Circle K is dedicated to meeting the needs of its members, too. Members are encouraged to share service projects they’d like to get involved in, and Circle K is more than happy to make them happen, Powers said.  

Powers, a senior now, started as a member in the club his freshman year. He has seen firsthand how the club has grown: when he first joined the club had 20 members, now it has almost 100. Powers hopes Circle K will continue to grow in order to increase the positive effect they have across the state.

“If we have members who are passionate just as we are abut serving others we’ll have a broader impact on this community and this area,” Powers said.

Powers is quick to note how Circle K is mutually beneficial. It not only helps the organizations it’s giving to, but also its own members.

“By giving back to others we build our own lives better, and that’s the point of our organization,” Powers said. “We just want to leave this world a better place.”

Circle K’s next meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. in Ferguson 3104. Everyone is invited to come and bring friends. Admission to Sunday’s Luminaries event is free, and people throughout the community are invited to attend. Free coffee, hot chocolate and donuts will be provided.

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