WORTHINGTON - The Early Risers Kiwanis Club will mark 50 years of existence with a celebration next week.


The Worthington club will host its anniversary event Oct. 11 at the Hickory Lodge, opening with a 5:30 p.m. social and 6 p.m. dinner with a program to follow. All are invited.


The Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Worthington was chartered on Oct. 23, 1968 with 35 charter members. The Charter Presentation Night was Nov. 20, 1968 at the Coliseum Ballroom in Worthington, with Worthington’s Noon Kiwanis serving as sponsoring club.


The Early Risers club has continued to maintain a membership of between 25 and 35 individuals over the years. Though numbers haven’t been large, the group has always been active, as members have been consistently involved with fundraisers, projects and youth programs while also providing one district governor (to the Kiwanis MN-DAK District), four lieutenant governors and one district director of education.


Dale Carlson was a charter member of the club, which meets at 6:45 a.m. Thursdays at the Center for Active Living, and remains a member today.


“Probably the most important change through the years has been the sponsoring of the K-Kids Club,” he said of the youth organization, chartered in 2001 at Worthington’s Prairie Elementary. “That’s the crown jewel of what we’ve done. It had a high of between 90 and 100 kids enrolled.”


The Early Risers members help instruct the elementary students about leadership skills and parliamentary procedure while also assisting with their club activities.


“We do all kind of service projects,” Early Risers member Roger Johnson said. “For example, Pennies for Patients raised a little more than $7,000 this year. There’s also a veterans’ breakfast … and a staff appreciation event, and there’s food collection for Manna Food Pantry.”


The Early Risers Club, along with Worthington’s Optimist Club, co-sponsor the Volunteer Optimist Kiwanis Kids (VOKK) club at Worthington Middle School. The club, which provides service to both the community and the school, was founded about 10 years ago.


Additionally, Early Risers also sponsors Quality Work Inspires Kids (QWIK) Awards, which are presented about five times each year at Prairie Elementary.


“We’ve done that for many years,” Carlson explained. “Kids work with their teacher to reach some kind of a goal, and any child can earn a QWIK Award based on any kind of improvement.”


Early Risers also regularly clean Millard Walker Park and Church Park, and coordinate the annual Grocery Dash and Community Prayer Breakfast events. It also coordinates the donation of books to Manna Food Pantry and magazines to Nobles County Jail.


For the Oct. 11 event, Carlson, who has enjoyed a 44-consecutive-year streak of perfect attendance, will speak as the group’s last active charter member. Harris Darling, no longer a member but the club’s founding president, will also give a presentation.


Cost for the event, including the meal, is $20 per person. Interested individuals should RSVP to Clair Williams, Treasurer, at 224 Clary St. W., Worthington 56187; or contact him at 360-5955 or clairwms37@gmail.com.