New Member's Guide
Primary Member’s Activities
Recruiting new members
Ice Cream Social
Clean a mile
Board of Directors
Memorial Day Parade
Waveny Senior Christmas Luncheon
X-Mas tree lot sales
This is the flagship event for the Exchange Club. In order to practice our motto, “Unity for Service,” we ask each member to be involved in this event in any way they can. The assignments are plentiful and quite varied: tree manager, wreath manager, merchandise manager, cashier, promotion, Santa Claus and four sales teams to reasonably cover an entire weekend of sales.
It takes an entire Club of about 130 members almost an entire month to make this happen. We order about 1,300+ trees (Balsams and Fraser firs), wreaths of assorted varieties both decorated and undecorated, and various Christmas merchandise.
We have also contracted with the North Pole to have Santa Claus with us for the December weekends so our children will have a place to make their requests. We decorate the small hut into Santa’s workshop thus transforming Kiwanis Park into a true Christmas village.
In addition, we supply wreaths for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to lay on veterans graves in New Canaan in the same tradition as occurs at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.
The planning for the sales usually starts in June /July. We usually place the order in August. This locks in the number of items we can sell
You should bring insulated work gloves as the trees are usually very cold as well as hat, warm jacket and footwear for a ground that might be cold and muddy. The work is outdoors and it can be cold and windy.
Setting up the Tree Lot Before Thanksgiving
We set up the lot the Saturday before thanksgiving. This where we assemble the racks for the trees, set up poles, bring in the Hedland Hut. Most of the materials is stored in a barn on someone’s properties.
Unloading the trucks the Friday after Thanksgiving
The trucks are scheduled to arrive in the morning of the Friday after Thanksgiving. There are usually two to three trailers stacked high with trees. We unload them in to piles by type and size of tree
The wreaths, rope, and bows are sorted and displayed in the passageways of the Kiwanis building.
All of the products are tagged so that the tag can be given to the cashier to ring it up correctly.
We start the sales that afternoon.
The club is broken into four teams (1 – 4). Each team works ½ day over the weekend (Saturday AM, Saturday PM, Sunday AM, Sunday PM). Each weekend the team works a different ½ day.
Before COVID-19 we provided soup / chilly and pop-corn to the kids.
Santa is not allowed with COVID-19
We do sales up until the end of Christmas eve.
During the sales we help the customer pick the tree, we will cut the tree to length and cut off lower branches to fit in their tree stand.
We also will tie the tree to the roof of their car.
We also offer delivery services. Before COIVID-19 we would do install in the home.
Breaking down the lot after Christmas
The Monday after Christmas we break down the site and put the materials away for the winter.
The dinners are held the first and third Tuesday of the month and at each of the dinners there is speaker.
Dinner is included in the club dues, drinks are not included.
This is also an opportunity to recruit new members.
Recruiting new members
We need to be bring on 10 -12 new members a year to maintain the current size of the club.
If you have someone you would like to recruit, bring them to a dinner. There is a form to complete so we know who is being recruited,
They must attend to two meetings before going to the board for approval.
As part of our service to the community, The Exchange Club has worked with the Homefront https://www.homefrontprogram.org/ organization each Spring. Members spend a day painting, helping with yard work and doing other repairs for someone in the community in need of assistance. Our Spring project gives members a chance to join one another and directly impact the quality of life of one of our neighbors.
In 2020 because of COVID-19 it was spread over two days with morning and afternoon shifts. In the past it has been a single day.
New Canaan Family Fourth
At this event, we assist the Town of New Canaan by helping to sell packaged ice cream bars and soda to attendees usually on the Fourth of July. We also help with the takedown and clean-up at the end of the event.
Typically the tent is maned in three shifts.
The members volunteering typically get free preferred parking.
Historical Society Ice Cream Social
Usually held the first Sunday in June. Over the years, we have been asked to assist the Historical Society to distribute ice cream to the attendees. Unlike our involvement in the Family Fourth Celebration, this effort requires us to wear aprons and scoop loose ice cream from large containers.
Clean A Mile
The Exchange Club has traditionally been assigned Lapham Road from Route 106 to the Merritt Parkway bridge to clean each year. We meet at the Waveny pool parking lot for coffee and doughnuts, take a trash bag and proceed to clean up both sides of Lapham Road from trash thrown by the wayside.
This usually takes several hours of one day.
Board of Directors
Each year in June there are changes in the board of directors of both the foundation and the club.
The board has a:
- President-elect – They run the tree lot
- Immediate past president
- Treasurer – Manages the finances
- External Communications – Does the website and press releases
- Member Communications – Send out Exchange Express
- Program chair – They get the speakers for our dinners
- 6 non-titled directors
After the new board has taken office, there is a dinner where spouses are invited
There is a holiday party where spouses are invited.
In the fall, we organize our Golf Outing at the beautiful and challenging Country Club of New Canaan for a day of near-perfect golf. The day will begin at 11:00 a.m. with registration and a buffet lunch upon arrival. This is followed by a shotgun start at 1:00 p.m. and 18 holes of golf with on-course refreshments. The day concludes with a cocktail reception, awards ceremony and an Exchange Club dinner meeting.
In the spring, the Exchange Club typically holds a social fundraiser to bring the community together in a fun environment. The evening may include live and silent auctions. In 2015, the Club leadership took part as guest bartenders at a local restaurant.
Grants and Donations – The fundraisers are the sole source of income for the Foundation. Applications for grants or donations are accepted during a three-month window in the first calendar quarter of the year. The Board of Directors of the Foundation determines the amount of money that is available for gifting.
A Grants and Donations Committee is formed and chaired by the Immediate Past President of the Club. The Committee conducts an in-depth review of the organizations applying for help and determines how the Foundation funds will be dispersed. Applicants are required to provide an overview and mission statement of the organization, description of the specific project for which funding is sought, current financial statements, and evidence of 501 (c) (3) status.
Memorial Day Parade
Americanism is a key pillar of the Exchange Club. We, as a Club, have been honored by the Town of New Canaan by being the only group to be allowed to distribute anything to the parade onlookers: small American flags. Each year, we distribute about 5,000 flags. We also have been honored to have a very favorable position in the parade’s line of march. With the exception of Town officials and military personnel, we are at the front of the parade.
Waveny Seniors Christmas Luncheon
We have been supporting this midday meal for the senior citizens of New Canaan for a number of years. Currently, we contract with Susan Goodman to cook the meal at Waveny House, which is then distributed by volunteer service groups. As part of this celebration, a high school choral group entertains and our Santa Claus takes a short visit from the Christmas village at Kiwanis Park to distribute some goodies.