True ColorsRoxanne Rich with Kiwanis Club, her son, Troop 66 Boy Scout Ty Rich, 13, and family friend Luke Middleton (right), 15, proudly display the last of 46 U.S. flags which they put on the downtown square Wednesday afternoon, getting ready for the Independence Day celebration on the square this Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7:45 p.m. The flags, purchased with Kiwanis project funds, are available for adoption to be tagged in honor and/or memory of military personnel and veterans, but could also be tagged for a loved one not in the military. The flags will posted five different times throughout the year. For more information, contact Roxanne Rich at 903-243-2171.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Kiwanis Club's flag program puts patriotism on display, but it also helps support the youths of the community

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

June 26, 2008 - It would be enough if the glorious display of U.S. flags that seem to miraculously appear along the main thoroughfares through Sulphur Springs did nothing more than show the pride local residents have in their heritage.

But the truth is that what so proudly we hail during five holidays of the year also mean some deserving youths go to camps, get to play a summer sport, or even go to college, thanks to the people who sponsor the flags put out by the Sulphur Springs Kiwanis Club.

"It's not just a great fund-raiser for us," said Kiwanis Club member Roxanne Rich, who chairs the club's Flag Committee. "The money goes for scholarships, sponsoring youth ball teams, sending kids to camps. We're able to help Scouting associations with many things so that it benefits 45 boys instead of just paying for one to go to camp."

Members of the Kiwanis Club work diligently five weekends a year -- Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Flag Day and Memorial Day -- to put the flags up, which are paid for by residents and business owners along the streets who like to put their love of their country on display.

At last count, some 145 businesses and organizations along Church, Gilmer, Oak, Broadway, College, Houston, Main and Connally streets sponsor the 225 flags put out by Kiwanis Club members.

"Everyone thinks it's wonderful," Rich said.

For $35 per year, the club members put up and take down the flags during the holiday weekends, and also repair the banners. When wind, weather and age take too much of a tool, the club enlists the aid of a local Boy Scout troop to properly dispose of the flags.

Some businesses sponsor multiple flags -- Alliance Bank, for example, pays for six a year. There's a discount for multiples, too -- two flags for $50, three for $75, four for $100, etc.

Another aspect of the program pays special tribute to heroes of all manner, both past and present -- a display by the military memorials on the downtown square, which currently numbers about 45 flags. Each of the "Memorial Flags" are tagged with the name of someone, whether it be a fallen soldier or someone else deserving of the honor.

"It can be a soldier, but it can also be any family member, in memory of someone or to simply honor someone," Rich explained. "It can be someone who gave their life for our country, or someone still alive that people want to recognize."

For more information about the Kiwanis Club's flag program, contact John Berning at 903-885-9607 or Roxanne Rich at 903-243-2171.1

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