THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF SAVANNAH
A HISTORY OF COMMUNITY SERVICE
Chartered May 4, 1926
The history of The Exchange Club of Savannah’s community service could not be complete without loud Kudos of praise to the extraordinary club members, past and present. These fine gentlemen and ladies of character and resolve dovetail their altruistic time and financial resources to a multiplicity of community causes. They are pillars of strength in their church, members of Masonic organizations, members of The International Order of Moose, members of Rotary, members of the Elks, and of course, are members of the Exchange and Exchangette Clubs of Savannah.
These men and women are not members in name only; they serve on the executive boards of these and many other charitable community organizations. They are the cream of the high achievers. They are an integral thread in the fabric of our local society. Because of their sustaining efforts, this world is a much better place. Their good deeds and reputation will live long after they pass into the great Exchange Club above.
If there is any recognition to be given or received, they should be the first in line.
THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF SAVANNAH
The Exchange Club building was constructed in 1982 on the Exchange Club Fair grounds. The club has met regularly since 1929. Forty-five committees meet on a regular basis to plan, execute and evaluate club objectives. There are four primary directions of service: Community, Americanism, Youth and The Prevention of Child Abuse. Community Service Projects are divided into Crime and Fire Prevention, Service to Seniors and the Book of Golden Deeds. Americanism, likewise, is the umbrella over The Freedom Shrine, Giveakidaflagtowave, One Nation Under God and Proudly We Hail. The Youth Projects are: Youth of the Month and Year and the A.C.E. Awards. The chart below easily demonstrates the success in these areas.
The Exchange Club of Savannah is the parent organization responsible for all activities associated with the club. These include the Victor B. Jenkins Boys’ Club, The Coastal Empire Fair Association and the Exchange Club Center.
THE VICTOR JENKINS ATHLETIC CLUB (FORMERLY VJ BOYS’ CLUB)
This premier youth recreational facility in Savannah is located on Waters Avenue. The Boys’ Club has an Olympic size pool, a weight lifting room, tennis courts, a large gymnasium for league basketball and volleyball, a handball court, a baseball field and a game room with numerous ping- pong and pool tables. Annual registration exceeds 500 boys aged 6-18. Proceeds from the Coastal Empire Fair, as well as nominal membership fees, numerous donations and trusts, an annual golf tournament and a fair food booth help support the facility and the diverse programs.
During the school year, the Boys’ Club provides supervised recreation for latch-key boys. A summer camp program provides recreational programs while school is in recess. There is hardly a time when the facility is not buzzing with activity.
In 1933, the late Judge Victor B. Jenkins founded the club known as the "Jefferson Club" located first at Jefferson Street, then at 35th & Lincoln Streets. The emphasis was on athletics due to the lack of such programs in public schools. Mr. Johnny Mercer, the songwriter, donated $15,000 in debt retirement funds.
Upon the death of Judge Jenkins in 1961, his entire estate was left in trust to the boys’ club. In 1985 the property was sold and the ambitious construction began on the current facility on Waters Avenue.
THE COASTAL EMPIRE FAIR
The Coastal Empire Fair Association has sponsored the largest local fair since 1949. Over 80,000 individuals attend during an 11-day run in late October. The 68 acre Fairgrounds are situated in Savannah. The CEFA is a member in good standing of the Association of Agricultural Fairs. In addition to an excellent Midway of thrilling rides and sideshow games, there are many exhibits to be experienced. The 7-county competition among the 4-H and FFA club members in hogs, pigs, goats, sheep and lambs make the Fair truly an outstanding attraction for youngsters. Cattle raised at The Bethesda Home are on display. Many interesting displays can be found in the Science Fair building where youth compete in many categories. The winners will represent the 1st Congressional District in the state competition. The Flower and the Arts & Crafts shows draw participants from all walks of life. Generous prizes are awarded to all show and event winners.
During the Sunshine Special event, 300-400 disadvantaged children are treated to a morning at the Fair. All rides and food are free. Upon their exit children are given an American flag, a Teddy bear and cotton candy. They and the host organization are most appreciative of the unique experience in bringing a little bit of sunshine into a child’s life.
All Pre-K children in Chatham are guests at the Fair Petting Zoo. Here the youth are able to touch and feed the various animals they have only seen in books. Their reactions are unique.
The net proceeds provided by the operation of the Coastal Empire Fair Association fund many worthy benevolences such as: The Victor B. Jenkins Boys’ Club, The Boy and Girl Scouts, The Union Mission, Senior Citizens, Crime Stoppers, The Greater Savannah Hall of Fame, The Frank Callen Boy’s and Girls’ Club, The Bethesda Home, The Greenbriar Home, The Fresh Air Home, The Union Mission and The Prevention of Child Abuse.
THE EXCHANGE CLUB CENTER
The primary objective of the Exchange Club Center is the promotion of the Prevention of Child Abuse and Child Safety. The center is a collaborative effort of The Savannah Exchange Club, Memorial Medical Health Center, The Savannah-Chatham Board of Education and the Georgia Council on Child Abuse Prevention.
For the past 13 years, the goals have been best achieved through the Quick-Think-A-Thon. An annual safety tournament is held for all second graders in both public and private sectors of education. The tournament is the result of the adaptation of the Quick-Think game into the classroom in part fulfilling the Quality Core Curriculum Standard for second grade Health and Safety. The tournaments have become a huge success locally and, as a result, are soon to spread throughout the state.