Service Leadership Programs

Blog | Media | Shop

Kiwanis water bottleKiwanis foam hand

Pins bring grins

Key Club members follow the tradition of trading

By Shanna Mooney

At times it’s almost like a sporting event—Key Club member A spots Key Club member B from across the room and realizes she’s from a district whose pin he doesn’t have. All else is forgotten. Time stands still as member A breaks into a sprint, dodging others in an attempt to reach member B and complete the swap before the workshop begins.

You’ve seen it time and again at conventions. The “champs” of this particular sport wear their medals proudly on lanyards around their necks, messenger bags or backpacks.

No one knows exactly when the tradition of trading Key Club pins began, but it’s been going strong for decades. “The tradition is inherited from the world of Kiwanis,” says Dave Wohler, club advisor counselor at the Kiwanis International office. “There is no mention of pins in the governing documents, although nearly every district mentions the swapping of pins in their international convention tour informational mailings.”

Many pins feature a district mascot or something the state or country is known for. But, not all pins are created equally. Rare or interesting pins are valued more and often trade for 2–5 other pins. And sometimes, those with the coveted pins are hesitant to give them up.

“Southwest pins! I love when everyone wants them but I’ll never give them out!” says Vanessa Richards, a Fountain Hills Junior-Senior High School (Arizona) Key Club member on the official Key Club International Facebook page.

Blake Roller, the Kentucky-Tennessee District governor who attends Sullivan Central High School
in Blountville, Tennessee, is an avid collector. He has amassed more than 60 pins in the past two years, all of which he stores in a book.

“I love trading and collecting Key Club pins,” he says on Facebook. “I designed a new Kentucky-Tennessee District pin this year. And that’s the first new pin we have gotten in like five years.”

For the new pin Roller used the district mascot, Jodi the pig, in front of a spider web design. “We called it Jodi’s Web, like Charlotte’s Web,” he says. His pin differs from previous year’s district pins because the pig is sitting up and facing outward. In previous editions of the pin, the mascot was depicted from a side view on all four legs.

“She even has the Key Club logo as a locket on her collar,” Roller says.

Some districts choose to use wellknown places or events on their pins instead of mascots. Indiana’s world-famous race, the Indy 500 inspired David L. Dillman, of the Key Club of Delphi Community High School in Indiana to use the Key Club logo and two checkered flags on the Indiana District pin. But Dillman says the appeal of pins is about more than the design.

“There is just something about collecting them that is so fun and memorable,” he says. “So far collected I’ve only 18 or so, which I’m sure pales in comparison to so many others. The pins are a source of conversation, and they help connect us all. Plus, unlike icebreakers, you can take the pins back home as a souvenir.”