The Exchange Club of East Dallas was charted August 14, 1948. At that time the first members and every member after accepted the Covenant of Service to ideals and goals of Exchange, and pledged to “serve in unity with those seeking better conditions, better understanding, and greater opportunities for all.” Further, they accepted as a motto: “Unity for Service.” The club has followed this pledge and has. made a difference in many ways to the individuals in need that live in our community.
From the beginning, the club emphasized the needs of children. One of the first projects was a Christmas party for wards of the Dallas County. The club members would purchase presents that were on the children’s Christmas lists. These presents would be handed out by the members at a festive Christmas party. It was the club’s idea that besides receiving the presents, the children would feel that many people care for them.
In the 1960’s many other organizations began similar projects during Christmas. The club wanted to do something different. At this time, the project was changed to “Christmas in September.” The club began working with area elementary schools’ disadvantaged children. The members took children shopping for new school clothes and later purchased winter jackets for those in need. The jacket program continues today and helps over 1,000 children each year.
One of the first projects began when the City of Dallas Parks Department came to the club’s members asking for our help to organize activities for the park facilities. The Exchange Club and the Lions Clubs began the first “Boys Baseball League” and these have grown to be the large organized programs we all know today. Currently the East Dallas Exchange Club is sponsoring the “City of Dallas Junior Golf Champion.” Working again with the City of Dallas Parks Department the club provides the backing that allow any boy or girl who wants to play, a tournament that is set up as much like a professional tournament as possible.
In 1952, a unique project was suggested to the club. The “Southwest Model Airplane Meet” was a project to enable model club leaders from across the southwest to bring their young people to a regional contest. This event grew to be the second largest model airplane contest help in the United States. The project required all members of the club to work for all four days of their Labor Day Holiday. This not only resulted in providing the airplane modelers a challenging and fund contest, the Exchange Club sold sponsorships to local companies. The event raised the money that funded all other club projects. Today the club is receiving support from the local community by raising money for sponsoring our Junior Golf Tournament.
Working with the DISD, the club became the first organization in the nation to fund a school project named “Reading is FUNdamental.” New books were given to children to challenge them to learn the enjoyment of reading. Today the club provides the “Weekly Reader” to many of the elementary school children in the East Dallas area.. Also the club has developed a relationship with Half Price Books that allow us to provide these schools with 50,000 books each year to hand out to students to take home and read with their parents.
The club continues to serve a wide variety of other needs: from the “Youth of the Year” scholarships, to the “Give a Kid a Flag” project and the continued sponsorship for EXCAP to help in the prevention of child abuse. Our members today are committed to continuing to serve those in need as the membership in the past.