With nearly 100 members, the HOTO (Heart of the Ozarks) is the second largest of seven Sertoma Clubs in the Springfield, Missouri area. Sertoma is an international 501(c)3 not for profit civic organization, and like “HOTO,” the name “Sertoma” is also an acronym, meaning “SERvice TO MAnkind.”
The men of HOTO like to do good while having fun doing it. Their primary service project is support the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield. And their primary means of fund raising is conducting Bingo games every Thursday at the Bingo Emporium on West Catalpa St. Bingo proceeds have amounted to several hundred thousand dollars and have gone toward putting new roofs of Boys & Girls Club facilities, building gymnasiums, purchasing computers, supplying cafeteria equipment, and providing buses and vans to transport the kids.
HOTO, or the Heart, also shows its heart to the kids each year at Christmas, when it hosts a Christmas party for 75 of the most deserving children from the B&G Clubs, providing them with a customized gift as well as a traditional holiday meal. Known as “A Christmas To Remember,” this annual events causes a warm feeling among members that equals that of the children.
The Heart also takes its cooking trailer to all the Bearfest Village events before home football games at Missouri State University, to cook and sell bratwursts and hamburgers. While tailgating raises some money, it is looked upon by club members as a fun event as well, and the great food has gained Sertoma many friends among football fans. The cooks and trailer also are made available at other public events – especially those that are a benefit for children.
In Springfield, the name Sertoma is most closely associated with the annual Sertoma Chili Cook-Off. The Heart of the Ozarks club was the originator of that event, now in its 31st year, and still participates, in cooperation with the other Sertoma Clubs in this area. The Chili Cook-Off, in its history, has raised nearly $2 million for Boys and Girls Club needs.
The newest project of HOTO is conducting the Sertoma Duck Races at Riverside Park in Ozark each summer, as a fund raiser for the Care To Learn Organizations of Christian County. Because of that project, HOTO is sponsoring a new 4-Cs Sertoma Club in Ozark, which is holding organizational meetings every Thursday at 6 PM at Fremont Hills Country Club.
The Heart is always looking for new members who would like to help serve the community while having fun doing it. If you are interested, call our office at 863-1231 or drop by the Event Center at 319 W. Walnut where we meet for lunch each Friday at noon.