The Kingston Garden Club has a long-standing tradition of community service which began at its March, 1951 meeting with a discussion about developing a plan for a Kingston beautification project. In 1953 and 1955, the club placed exhibits in the shadow box of the Kingston office of the Olympic Telephone Company. In 1954, the Washington State Ferries accepted the club’s offer to maintain a flower planter box outside the waiting room at the Kingston ferry dock.
Also in 1954, the club’s secretary wrote to the Postmaster General “suggesting a flower stamp be issued, preferably showing the Rhododendron or Dogwood”. The reply of the Assistant Postmaster General was very polite but gave little hope.
A stamp showing the Rhododendron in Washington State was finally issued in 1992 as part of a series on the birds and wildflowers of the 50 States. Perhaps this was in response to years of requests like that made by the KGC secretary in 1954.
In 1954 and 1955, the club sent potted plants and bulbs to the children at Riverside Sanitarium, a tuberculosis hospital in Bremerton.
In 1955, there were references in the meeting minutes to “so many boys of the service in town” and “the boys at the Niche [Nike] Station.” Kingston was the location of one of the Nike anti-aircraft missile sites built in the U.S. in the fifties and early sixties. Like every other Nike site, Kingston’s was staffed by 109 officers and men for whom “Mrs. Crawford offered to bake a wild blackberry pie and Mrs. Bogan offered to make cookies.” Flower arrangements were sent by the club for the servicemen’s mess hall, and Kay Morola pointed out that “if anyone was thinning out their shrubs or flowers[, the Station] would appreciate them . . . come on girls[,] let’s help”. In 1957, Mrs. Somers requested members to “donate iris, tulip or daffodil bulbs for the Nike Site.”
The club made corsages for the graduating Class of 1956, and at the same time held a plant and bake sale to purchase chairs for the Y.W.C.A. In the same year, the Leader of the Girl Scouts in Kingston requested that the KGC help the troop girls earn their gardening badges, and Olive Crawford and Hazel Reynolds volunteered. In 1957, the KGC took over a Litterbug Campaign, which was part of a clean-up campaign sponsored by the Kingston Commercial Club. KGC members placed litter cans and posters “on all roads out of Kingston.” In November of 1957, the club made favors for the Thanksgiving dinner trays of patients in the various nursing homes in Poulsbo.
In the 1950s, the KGC made cash donations to the American Red Cross , the North End Little League, the March of Dimes, the Kingston Ambulance Fund, the Orthopedic Hospital, the “heart fund”, and to the Fireman’s Club for fireworks.
Many of the good works of the Kingston Garden Club are funded by its Plant Sale, now held every year on the Saturday of the weekend before Mother’s Day. The club’s first Plant Sale was held on April 26, 1952 with only eleven days allowed for preparation after the idea was conceived. In the 1950s, several small plant sales might be held in any particular year, in contrast to the very large event conducted once annually by today’s KGC.
Today’s KGC also has a Ways and Means Committee in charge of raising money at each of the club’s regular meetings. The expression “ways and means” first became part of KGC parlance in September of 1954. The secretary reported in the meeting minutes that “ways and means to raise money [were] discussed . . . .” Fund raising efforts in the club’s first decade included bake sales, rummage sales, and bingo parties. Club members sold cards and notepaper in 1955 and Garden Market Pen Kits in 1957. In the autumn of 1958, a committee of five ladies provided florist services for the wedding of Grace Podratz, presumably for a fee. Flowers for the wedding were contributed from the gardens of club members. This was repeated a year later for the wedding of Elta Podratz. Muriel Podratz was a KGC member and the second Flowers-to-Sick Committee Chairman. Perhaps Grace and Elta are her daughters.