Kiwanis In The Community—Part 5: May We Build

All of the Kiwanis school clubs support the African Library Project (ALP). Photo by Sharon Allen

Photo by Sharon Allen

Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos

Kiwanis has been active in Los Alamos for 75 years. 

The Kiwanis Motto is “Serving the Children of the World”. That motto replaced one that was in effect for 80 years at the international level: We Build.

Kiwanis builds by serving the children of the world. A strong pillar of Kiwanis is the concept of Kiwanis Family—offering “clubs” at every school level here in Los Alamos. 

The elementary schools have “K Kids”. In general, these are for students third grade and up, but, depending on the school sponsor, some younger students participate. The Middle School has “Builders Club” and the High School sponsors the long-standing “Key Club”. Each of the clubs has a school sponsor who is paid a stipend by Kiwanis and also has a Kiwanian as a sponsor. 

But Kiwanis youth outreach is far beyond Los Alamos. All of the school clubs support the African Library Project (ALP). Thousands of books have been collected and shipped to Africa. Additionally, most of the clubs do some fundraising to help pay for shipping libraries to participating English speaking African countries: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda and South Africa. Over the years, libraries have gone to 8 additional African countries, often dependent on support from the country’s government.

The primary person behind Kiwanis’ involvement in the ALP is Kiwanian Sharon Allen. Sharon, a retired primary teacher, has impacted the lives and education of over 50,000 African Children. She grew up in New York State, taught in several states, moved to northern New Mexico in 1976, and ended up retiring as a Kindergarten and 1st Grade teacher in Los Alamos in 2016.

Books for ALP are collected, boxed and delivered to the Missionary Expediters Warehouse in New Orleans to fill a container aboard a cargo ship headed to whichever port is closest to the designated country. There is a cost (always increasing) of approximately $650 for a library of 1200 books. Kiwanis is always looking for sponsors for this expense. We also seek elementary school books for delivery. Reading level is relatively low so we cannot use high school, college or adult books except in very limited numbers. An email to Cheryl Pongratz ( will be forwarded to Sharon if you are interested in donating books or shipping costs. Los Alamos is a community of readers and has provided extensive support for the African Library Project. You are encouraged to get involved!

Photo by Sharon Allen

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