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story.lead_photo.caption Spencer Felts of Searcy was recently elected to his second term as president of the Kiwanis Club of Searcy. Felts said he enjoys helping children, which is the primary goal of Kiwanis International. ( Staci Vandagriff)

Spencer Felts has three children of his own, and through his work as president of the Kiwanis Club of Searcy, he’s able to give back to countless young people.

Felts, who is in his second term as president, said he really enjoys the primary goal of Kiwanis: helping children.

“The Kiwanis’ whole platform is children,” he said. “All of our programs center around children.”

According to Kiwanis International, it “empowers members to pursue creative ways to serve the needs of children, such as fighting hunger, improving literacy and offering guidance.”

The Searcy chapter’s way to help children is through providing them with shoes.

“We raise money year-round. … Everything we do goes to buy shoes for school kids — kindergarten through senior high. All of the special projects we do and the events we do — that is the purpose behind them.”

Felts said his club has two big events each year.

“In the spring, primarily, we have a mud volleyball tournament that’s open to anybody,” he said. “The Key Clubs in the high schools have teams. We had teams come from out of town last year. All of the entry fees go to buy shoes, or team members can bring a pair of new shoes for their entry fee.”

Another event to raise money to buy shoes is the annual Pancake Day, which will take place from 8:30-11 a.m. Dec. 7 at First Baptist Church in Searcy.

“Our really big event that’s been going on for several years, long before I got involved, is our Pancake Day,” Felts said. “We cook pancakes throughout the morning. People can do takeout or eat there.”

Felts said this is the first time the Kiwanis Club has held the event in December with a Christmas theme.

“We usually do it during the week,” he said. “We’re doing it on a Saturday this year. Santa will be there, so kids can come see him and tell him what they want for Christmas. We’re going to have a hot-chocolate station and games.”

Admission is $5 per person, or $20 maximum for an immediate family, for the all you-can-eat breakfast.

“People that have a big family, it doesn’t matter,” Felts said. “The most they will pay is $20.”

Cassandra Feltrop, a past president of the Kiwanis Club of Searcy and the current lieutenant governor for Division 21,

which includes Arkansas and Missouri, said Felts has done a good job leading the club.

“Spencer brings enthusiasm to the club and is dedicated to reaching out to help children in our community through our service projects,” Feltrop said. “I absolutely believe Spencer is leading the club in a great direction. We are growing and have gotten some new members recently. He’s dong a good job of leading us into the future.”

Felts was born and raised in Newport. He graduated from Newport High School in 1999. He received a bachelor’s degree in radio/television broadcast journalism from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, but he never used his degree.

“The closest I came was in school, working on our school radio station or the TV station,” he said. “It was all part of the curriculum.”

After college, Felts worked in the banking industry before getting into the insurance business.

“From there, I found my way into insurance through a family friend,” he said. “I’ve been doing insurance for the past 11 years.”

That almost coincides with him moving to Searcy with his wife, Jennifer, as they moved to the White County city because of her job.

“I just opened up my own agency here six months ago,” Felts said of his Allstate Insurance business.

He and his wife have been married for 11 years, and they have three children: son Hudson and daughter Elizabeth, both 7; and son Henry, 2.

Felts said he became involved with the Kiwanis through a friend.

“He had been talking to me about it,” Felts said. “I didn’t know a lot about it. I knew what Kiwanis was. I knew about all of the civic clubs, but I didn’t know a lot about what they did. He got me to come to a couple of meetings, and I just enjoyed it.”

That was six years ago.

Felts served as president for a year, then was just installed for a second term in October.

“I feel like it takes close to a year to figure out what to do,” he said. “I was a member of the board prior to that. I stepped into a different role with more responsibility, like lining up speakers for meetings, spearheading our projects and stuff like that. I had to learn how to juggle it all. I felt like I was finally starting to get a good handle on it.”

Felts said the board asked him about running for president again.

“Things had been going well,” he said. “They had been going well under other presidents, too. We’ve had some new members join in and been able to get some fresh blood in there. We had a lot planned for this year that I started working on. I just wanted to see it through. When they asked, I obliged. I couldn’t really tell them no to anything. I really love what we do.”

Felts said he’s glad he got involved with the Kiwanis of Searcy.

“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in different clubs and organizations in my community,” he said, “and by far, the most rewarding one is Kiwanis.”

The Kiwanis Club participates in Unity Health’s A Day of Caring each year at Harding University in Searcy. The club gives out shoes each summer for students who are starting back to school.

“Every year, you see the kids come through and get the shoes and see their faces light up,” Felts said. “It is the most rewarding thing that I have been a part of, as far as civic organizations go.”

A Day of Caring is not the only time the Kiwanis Club provides shoes, Felts said.

“We’re available to do it year-round,” he said. “The schools in town, they know we always have shoes here on hand. If a child needs them, they will contact us and let us know if it’s for a boy or girl or what size they need. If we don’t have them in stock, we run out and get them and take them to the school for that child.”

Felts said he’s trying to make a difference by changing a child’s life.

“If anything, maybe one of those kids we give shoes to sees us with our Kiwanis shirts on, and maybe they will grow up and say they want to be a part of it because they saw what we did for them,” Felts said. “Maybe they will want to give back someday.”

Felts said the Kiwanis Club of Searcy currently has 35 members, which he said is what it has been during his six years in the club.

“We’ve had some members who were older that have resigned from the club or some who have been in it for years and aren’t physically able to do it anymore,” he said. “Sometimes, priorities change, and people don’t have as much time for it as they once did. However, we’ve added three new members in the past two months.”

The Kiwanis Club of Searcy meets at noon the first and third Thursdays of the month at the Unity Health South Campus on Main Street.

“One thing that I’ve focused on with our meetings is to up our attendance and keep the interest,” Felts said. “I’ve tried to get different speakers.”

In the past year, Chasse Conque, a former athletic director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was a speaker, along with a representative from the Arkansas Travelers baseball club and a representative from the state Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“We try to do something a little bit different to bring in a different mix to offer to everyone,” Felts said. “They might like to hear it and be interested in it.”

Staff writer Mark Buffalo can be reached at (501) 399-3676 or mbuffalo@arkansasonline.com.

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