Spring Valley Kiwanis members Brenda Stier, middle, and William Rowen, right, receive plaques and congratulations from former Kiwanis Minn-Dak Gov. Denis Cornell, also a Spring Valley Kiwanis Club member.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Spring Valley Kiwanis members Brenda Stier, middle, and William Rowen, right, receive plaques and congratulations from former Kiwanis Minn-Dak Gov. Denis Cornell, also a Spring Valley Kiwanis Club member. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE

Small change can make a world of difference. 

“A woman and her unborn children are protected by the mother receiving a series of three shots at 60 cents each,” explained Spring Valley Kiwanis Club member Nancy Cornell, speaking of the Eliminate Project, a collaborative effort with UNICEF to combat the statistic that seven newborn babies die each hour as a result of maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). 

Kiwanis International partnered with UNICEF in 2011 to reach a goal of $110 million to buy vaccines and pay for training of UNICEF health care workers. UNICEF and Kiwanis embarked on an adventure in 2011 to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus around the world.  The goal is to eliminate it by 2015 — it’s a preventable but very deadly disease, and it’s prevalent in areas underserved by health care, like parts of Africa and Southeast Asia.

“We still have a ways to go – UNICEF is on the ground doing the vaccinations and health care, training people in safer child birth and sanitation practices,” Said Cornell. “Kiwanis is providing some of the money for the project – donating $110 million to buy vaccines. So far, $70 million has been raised, which protects 39 million women and their unborn children – we started with 40 countries, and we have 24 left.” 

Locally, the club has a goal of $28,500 by mid-2015. So far, it has raised $22,468, which protects 12,482 mothers and their unborn children from this deadly but preventable disease.  A change can is passed around at each meeting in which members put their spare change. The local club also gets donations from members, the public, the Almanzo Wilder Fest dinner and a soup dinner fundraiser at Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery.

Donations from Kiwanis members can make a noticeable difference in the club’s ability to reach its stated goal, as two members  — club president Brenda Stier and William Rowen — were named Hixson Fellows during the Oct. 8 club meeting for their donations and their choice to dedicate those funds to the Eliminate Project.

In 1983, the Kiwanis International Foundation established the George F. Hixson Fellowship. Named for Kiwanis International’s first president, Hixson Fellowships are bestowed upon donors who give $1,000 or more to the foundation.

It’s a way of recognizing people who have contributed significantly to Kiwanis’ history of generosity,” according to the Kiwanis International website. “In fact, clubs and Kiwanians often give in honor of another person or organization — recognizing others’ help and commitment with a Hixson Fellowship.”

Rowen and Stier were presented with plaques, a medal and a lapel pin to mark their contributions, and Cornell’s husband, former Kiwanis Minnesota-Dakota Governor Denis Cornell, thanked them for generosity toward the Spring Valley club’s goal of raising funds to eliminate MNT and encouraged others to donate their small change against the hourly toll of seven deaths.