Kiwanis Club steps up fundraising


Joann Greene, a member of the Wantagh Kiwanis Club board, said she joined the group after attending a meeting at which members were raising money to send a child to a camp for kids who have been hospitalized with severe burns. Greene said she was touched by the stories and all the people who wanted to help.

Now the Kiwanis Club, a chapter of Kiwanis International, a service organization founded in 1915, is gearing up for another fundraiser Sept. 30 at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown. Proceeds will go to support the group’s many community-service projects, college scholarships and funding for Kamp Kiwanis, which hosts disadvantaged children for a sleep-away summer camp.

“We’ve been doing all of these [projects] for a while,” Kiwanis President Margaret Silberger said. “The focus is really to give back.”

Admission to the 8 p.m. show is $25. Attendees must be 16 or older. Food will be available, and gift baskets will be raffled off.

Covid-19 hampered the Kiwanis Club’s fundraising efforts, Silberger said. Since most New York state coronavirus restrictions were lifted this past summer, however, it has been easier to host fundraisers like the one at Governor’s Comedy Club, she noted.

“It’s been quite the challenge with Covid,” she said.

During the pandemic, the Kiwanis Club sold discount cards to help local small businesses that were also struggling. The group is no stranger to service projects and helping out children and those in need. The Wantagh club has been active for 67 years.

Each summer, it sends three to six local children to Kamp Kiwanis, in Taberg, N.Y., for a week. Scholarships are awarded to Wantagh High School graduating seniors who are members of the school’s Key Club, the scholastic division of Kiwanis, and students at the Rosemary Kennedy School in Wantagh, a part of the Nassau County Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Board member Debbie Tota said she joined Wantagh Kiwanis because of its fundraising efforts. “I wanted to help raise money for the community and help out,” Tota said. “There was no one particular reason. I love everything the club does. I just wanted to be there and help.”

Club members also volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park, and make brunch or dinner. They support the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center Foundation at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and Stony Brook University Hospital. They take part in parades, sponsor Wantagh fairs and festivals, and assist and support the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce.

Apart from service projects, the Wantagh Kiwanis also welcomes guests from nonprofits to speak at meetings. Prior visitors include representatives of the American Red Cross and Freeport-based nonprofit Book Fairies, which collects and distributes books to schools and other organizations.

“You meet a lot of people at these meetings, even from other towns’ Kiwanis [clubs],” Greene said. “They’re like-minded people. Everyone wants to help. Every little thing helps.”

Tickets for the Governor’s Comedy Club event will not be sold at the door. Call Debbie Tota at (516) 729-0521 for tickets.