With 464 poinsettias to deliver Wednesday, Janette Meis of the Kiwanis Club of Hays was thankful for temperatures in the upper 40s, with predictions for the high 50s by mid-afternoon.

“Today we’re so fortunate it’s going to be a beautiful day,” said Meis. “We should be good because the routes won’t be going out until closer to noon.”

The Kiwanis Club’s annual Christmas poinsettia project raises money for local community causes like CASA of the High Plains, Big Brothers Big Sisters, First Call for Help, and this year for the first time, the all-access ARC Park.

“Kiwanis is about supporting children,” said Meis, who heads the project committee. “We support a lot of organizations in town.”

The plants arrived in a Freightliner box truck around 9 a.m. Wednesday from Stutzmans Greenhouse, a Mennonite gardening center in Pleasantview near Hutchinson, said Danny Ewing, who drove the truck to Hays.

One of five Stutzmans trucks delivering poinsettias around the state this morning, Ewing’s was loaded last night, he said, and maintained a 60-degree temperature in the box overnight.

Eight Kiwanis members unloaded and sorted the plants early Wednesday at Big Creek Crossing, whose management loaned an empty space that was formerly the Hallmark store.

With 53 routes to cover, more of the club's 92 members would arrive later to pick up plants and make deliveries. They were scheduled to get help with 10 of the routes from Thomas-More Prep-Marian High School students in Key Club, the junior Kiwanis organization, said Melissa Rome, a 20-year Kiwanis member who organized the routes.

“Everybody pitches in,” said Meis. “We’re a very large club, everybody has volunteered to help. It’s a great organization.”

Deliveries will go to Hays Memorial Chapel, Via Christi Village, Nex-Tech, Hays Car & Truck Alignment, M&D Excavating, Allenbaugh Insurance Agency, Golden Belt Bank, Astra Bank, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Munjor, Lifetime Dental Care, Great Plains Dermatology, and many others, including Kiwanis member and FHSU President Tisa Mason, who ordered a few.

The poinsettias were all presold in October and November, with a choice of 10-inch or 8-inch pots, and red, white or red glitter plants, which is a red-leaf with white speckles in it.

Red is the favorite.

“It’s really pretty popular,” Meis said. “Red is your standard poinsettia color that people gravitate toward.”

Meis has been helping with the project since she became a member in 2003. She said she thinks the project began in 1980 or so.

“Janette, it goes back farther than that,” piped up Dennis Zimmerman, a 40-year member of the club, who remembers sorting the plants at another vacated store in the late 1970s.

“It’s kind of amazing, something going on this long,” Meis said. “We sold more this year than we did last year. Our goal was 500, but we didn’t quite make it.”

Kiwanis volunteer Jolene Fisher said the poinsettias are hardy.

“The ones I’ve taken down to the Hays Daily lasted until May,” Fisher said, noting some people have had luck planting them in their yards when temperatures are more moderate.

“That’s dedication,” Meis said.