The Optimists, whose purpose is to be "Friends of the Youth," meet every Saturday, at 8 a.m., at the Sister's Coffee Bar on South Washington Street, Brazil.
Club members will soon begin selling poinsettias to fund various upcoming youth activities including sponsoring local children who want to attend a summer camp and providing clothing to area children in need, as well as other activities.
The proceeds from the flower sales will help send kids to Vincennes University in June for the annual Respect for Law Camp, which is conducted by the Indiana State Police.
"Usually when kids go one year, they want to go again the next year," Board member Rita Rothrock said. "We hope the ideas at the camp inspire those who go, and they can look back and draw on what they've learned throughout their lives."
The camp is a 3-day program that teaches students in grades 4-6 about safety and discipline.
"It's almost like a military boot camp," Rothrock explained. "The kids learn to march in formation, but they also have fun. They really enjoy when they get to see the explosives demonstration."
In addition to selling Christmas flowers, the Optimists will also be accepting donations at a booth in the Brazil Kroger's foyer to help clothe Clay County youth this Christmas.
Previously, club members have raised enough to provide clothes for 231 area children, but last year they could only give gifts to 128 children.
"Our participation and donations are down this year, so we aren't able to help as many children as we normally do," Rothrock said.
She speculated the club might only be able to accommodate approximately100 children this year.
Families needing assistance should apply at the Brazil Housing Authority, Hamilton Center, Inc., and the Clay County Department of Child Services. All children from infants to 18-year-olds who still attend high school are eligible to receive gifts.
The deadline for submitting an assistance application is Friday, Nov. 11.
The assistance applications tell club members the gender of the child in need, as well as the specific sizes the child wears. Local volunteers will review applications, confirm eligibility and assign families to various adoptive organizations.
"Sometimes this is the only Christmas these children will get," Rothrock said.
The Optimists will shop for those who qualify the first week of December, and will distribute the clothing the following Saturday.
Other funds the Optimists raise will go toward the yearly junior golf tournament at Forest Park Golf Course, where junior golfers from the local area and throughout the state will participate.
"The Optimists really try to work together to make the community a better place," Rothrock said, "whether it's purchasing decorations to make the downtown area look festive for the holidays or sponsoring kids."
Those needing to apply for assistance can contact Monica Wallace at the Christmas Assistance Program at 448-8801 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For more information on the Optimist Club or to volunteer or donate, contact Rothrock at 448-2972 or the Optimists at 446-8495 or 448-8454.