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Father, son take over Kiwanis
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Newton County resident Shannon Sneed and his son Andrew don't always see eye to eye. In fact, they argue quite a bit, generally over some typical issues a father and teenage son face: politics, responsibility and the future.

Shannon is a lawyer, who followed in his father's footsteps, while Andrew is planning to major in music in college and make his mark on the tricky-to-master French horn.

However, one passion they've shared is service through Kiwanis International, a civic club that aims to help the children of the world. Kiwanis has been around since its 1915 founding, but the Sneed boys have only been involved in their respective clubs for the past three years; yet both were elected president of their clubs this year. Shannon is the head of the Kiwanis Club of Covington, while Andrew, a high school senior, runs the Eastside High School Key Club.

They've both dived into the world of civic-oriented service; they drunk "the Kiwanis Kool-aid" as Shannon has known to phrase it. And they both agree that their roles as president are to leave things better than they found them.

"It's a neat coincidence," Andrew said. "We're both running these clubs and trying to improve them at the same time. He's bouncing ideas to me to help my club, and I help with him things when he needs it, like volunteering with them. He'll drag me out to the meetings and have me see what they're doing. It's pretty cool; here we are in our domain and it happens to be the same year."

Shannon served in Key Club in high school and it means a lot to him that his son is showing a passion for service, particularly at an age when many youth tend to be self-centered.

"I'm glad that he wanted that position and took it, and that he's tried to make his club better," Shannon said. "In effect, that's all any of us have ever done - try to leave it a little better than we found it. My officers and I are setting it up for the next group (to do even more)."

This year, Kiwanis is planning to participate in around 24 different activities, fundraisers and events, a sizable increase from last year. Some of the additions are small and some are big, and they run the range from a pancake breakfast to raise money for charities to increased participation with the local Salvation Army to aid that group in its efforts.

At Eastside High School, Andrew said the number of members has doubled this year, thanks to an increased emphasis on club participation by principal Jeff Cher. The Alcovy and Newton Key clubs have also seen growth.

And joining a Key Club isn't just about padding a college resume. Andrew said he and others have really connected on some of their activities. The Christmas Party hosted for the members of the local homeless shelter was particularly meaningful.

"Helping people who aren't really in the best conditions themselves, bringing some happiness and cheer and whatnot in the Christmas season - which for some may be simply a reminder that things aren't too happy right now - is important," Andrew said. "We provide a meal, bring gifts and Santa, play music, throw a party and celebrate with these people; that's probably the best thing to do.

"I'm always surprised about how much fun you can have when you're helping other people and working with the members of your club. I never expected (Key Club) to be such a fun thing."

For Shannon, the rationale is similar. He enjoys serving as he's able and getting better connected to the community that's been his home for many years.

"They do say you become who you associate with. So, if you associate with good people who do good things, you will end doing that as well," Shannon said. "If you look around the club and look around at the people in it...there are just so many of them who do so much.

"You start doing stuff, start doing a little more and a little more and then you're in deep."