By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
When it comes to promoting leadership and service ideals on campus, Baylor’s chapter of Circle K International hopes to impact the local community and beyond.
Circle K, part of the larger service organization Kiwanis International, is a student-run group at Baylor, and is one of many chapters at college campuses across the nation. There are over 13,000 total members of Circle K, and the organization is recognized as the world’s largest student-led collegiate service organization. The group meets biweekly and focuses heavily on service projects, working with organizations like March of Dimes, the Humane Society of Central Texas, Shepherd’s Heart and Students Stepping Up to Fight Hunger.
Houston senior Jonathan Gatlin serves as the president of Baylor’s chapter of Circle K, where he oversees meetings and service and social events. He appreciates the group’s ability to unite students through fellowship and service.
“For me, the most impactful part of getting involved in leadership as president is connecting with people on a more personal level where I can develop true friendships with everyone in the group,” Gatlin said. “I love to serve almost anywhere, but what really impacts me is seeing the love that everyone who gets involved has for both specific causes and just service in general.”
Gatlin’s favorite event to participate in thus far has been the March for Babies event in April which benefited March of Dimes, a nonprofit that fights for healthy pregnancies and preventing infant mortality.
“Our organization got to play games like ring toss with the children there, and it was just so amazing to see the children’s faces light up when they would make a ring around a bottle or win some candy,” Gatlin said. “It was really impactful to see how many people showed up to march in support for helping to end complications to premature births and to help children who have complications or have had them in the past.”
Cibolo senior Hunter Dentino, former president of the university’s Circle K chapter, was impacted by the interaction with the children because of this event.
“The event was really moving in the fact that they brought forward a lot of children that had been directly impacted by the money that is raised at the walk,” Dentino said. “We were able to interact a lot with the kids and help with the games at the event, which was really fun.”
Dentino currently serves as the Central Texas lieutenant governor for Circle K International, where he oversees and supports Circle K chapters in areas of Texas and Oklahoma. He appreciates his position as an opportunity to grow in leadership.
“I’ve been able to expand my horizons beyond chapter level activities and learn about many new opportunities that I otherwise would have never known about,” Dentino said. “I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in conventions within both Texas and Oklahoma, as well as Circle K’s International Convention back in 2017. Seeing the thousands of other people dedicated to serving their communities and trying to expand upon their own abilities to lead was amazing.”
One of Circle K’s most recent projects was the Threads of Hope fundraiser, where bracelets and keychains were sold to benefit families in the Philippines living in poverty.
“In the Philippines, children in poverty are sometimes forced into desperate situations to help provide basic needs for their families and since the parents of these children are typically forced to travel long distances to find work, kids are left alone and are especially vulnerable to exploitation, continuing the cycle of poverty,” Dentino said. “The bracelets are made in the Philippines by the families that receive the money raised from the fundraiser, and we help provide dignified work for the families so that they can be together and pursue an education.”
Gatlin said other recent events for the group included wearing purple on the 25th to promote sexual assault prevention and a current Turkeypalooza food drive with Campus Kitchens to benefit Shepherd’s Heart and The Store, which will continue through November 20th.
Circle K meets biweekly on Mondays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Paul L. Foster Business School Room 126. Their next meeting will be held November 5. They can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and further information is available on the group’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.