The Newport Beach Sister City Assn. will celebrate in 2014 the 30th anniversary of the relationship with Okazaki, Japan, according to Connie Skibba, Sister City board member.

"The twinning cities have enjoyed a warm and mutually supportive friendship, and have had the privilege of experiencing each other's cultures and communities through travel and exchange programs," she adds.

Two members of the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa were instrumental in founding the Sister City program with Okazaki. A year or two before Newport Beach established the program, Rotarians Robert "Moe" Hamill and Wendell Fish established a Rotary Youth Exchange program between the two cities, involving ninth-grade students on the weeklong exchange.

Two years later, then-Mayor Evelyn Hart asked if Rotary would be interested in helping start the Newport Beach Sister City program. Moe and Wendell said yes, and the rest is 30 years of history between the two cities.

The mayor of Okazaki has extended an invitation to the mayor and residents of Newport Beach to visit Okazaki in April. In addition to further cementing the friendship between the two locales, this visit will serve as an opportunity to experience new and old traditions that have developed the richness of Japanese history.

Some of the other highlights will include visiting Tokyo and the old city of Kyoto. The approximate dates of this trip are April 2 through 10, and reservations will be limited. Those interested in being a part of the Sister City delegation should contact Liddy Paulsen, president of NBSCA, at nbgram@aol.com or Skibba at cskibba@dslextreme.com.

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Santa's helpers

The Harbor Mesa Lions are serving the community once again by wrapping gifts for children at the Westside Boys & Girls Club on Dec. 14, according to club member Carol Van Holt. This annual event is the highlight of the year for the children, who get to pick out toys and gifts for their families, she adds.

Toys are donated by several organizations such as Toys for Tots. The children earn points by completing homework assignments and use the points to "purchase" the presents for their families and themselves. The Lions wrap the gifts for them to take home and put under the tree. Irvine's University High School Leo Club, sponsored by Harbor Mesa Lions, will also be wrapping at this event.

On the same day, gifts for two needy families in Costa Mesa will be delivered by the Lions, and a breakfast will be cooked and served at the Ronald McDonald House in Orange. Family members who have hospitalized children stay at this facility near Children's Hospital of Orange County, and are very appreciative when they have the Lions there to make breakfast.

The motto of Lions International is "We Serve," and the Harbor Mesa Lions are doing exactly that with these types of projects. You can learn more about the club and what members do by going to nhcmlionsclub.com.

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Service Club Meetings This Week

WEDNESDAY

Noon: The 15-member Exchange Club of Corona del Mar meets at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, 1601 Bayside Drive, Corona del Mar, for a business meeting.

THURSDAY

7 a.m.: The 20-member Costa Mesa Orange Coast Lions Club meets at Mimi's Café, Newport and Harbor boulevards, Costa Mesa.

Noon: The 45-member Kiwanis Club of Newport Beach/Corona del Mar meets at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club for a program by Clarence Caldwell. For more information, visit sites.google.com/site/kiwanisofnewportbeach.

Noon: The 75-member Exchange Club of Newport Harbor meets at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club for a business meeting. On Dec. 12, Bob Wood presents "How and Why I Know So Much About UFOs" at a special "ladies' day" luncheon. For more information, visit http://www.nhexchange.org.

Noon: The 40-member Kiwanis Club of Costa Mesa meets at the Costa Mesa Country Club, 1701 Golf Course Drive, Costa Mesa. For more information, visit http://www.costamesakiwanis.org.

Noon: The 55-member Newport-Irvine Rotary Club meets at the University Club, 801 E. Peltason Drive, Irvine.

6 p.m.: The 57-member Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa meets at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club for a program by UCI graduate Shuji Tanaka, a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from Tokyo. For more information, visit http://www.newportbalboa.org.

MONDAY

6:30 p.m.: The Harbor Mesa Lions Club meets at the Costa Mesa Country Club on the first and third Monday of each month. The club meets at various restaurants in the area. For more information, email clion93@verizon.net.

TUESDAY

7:15 a.m.: The 58-member Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club will meet at the Five Crowns Restaurant, 3801 Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, for a program by Southern California Edison on renewable energy. On Dec. 17, Lt. Col. Lance Jackola, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, will be the speaker. For more information, visit http://www.newportbeachsunriserotary.org.

COMMUNITY & CLUBS is published Wednesdays. Send your service club's meeting information to jdeboom@aol.com.