The Kiwanis Club of East Meadow helped community members once again offset their back-to-school expenses. In August, the club hosted its fourth annual pack-a-backpack fundraiser, collecting school supplies for students in need.
The East Meadow club is part of the global Kiwanis organization, which provides volunteer opportunities and support for communities around the world. The organization has more than 250,000 adults involved, and over 300,000 youth members. About 140 of the local club’s members help organize various fundraisers and volunteer projects throughout the year, specifically catered to supporting younger generations.
“Kiwanis is here in this community to help the children,” Diane Krug, club president, said.
This year, the club did not measure monetary or supply donation amounts, but rather looked at the specific needs of the East Meadow community. When it came to determining how many kids needed school supplies, members were successful in meeting those needs.
“To us, that’s 110 percent, and we still have more after that, which is so generous,” Jennifer Reinhardt, event organizer and former Kiwanis president, said. “Every year it’s been 100 percent effort by the community, by our club, by its members and by our local businesses and our friends.”
Betsy Lashin, director of special education and pupil personnel services in the East Meadow School District, collaborated with Krug and Reinhardt to match the supply demand for incoming children.
“I mention it to the social workers here in the buildings, and they have a good pulse on the needs in the community and the needs of the students,” Lashin said, “and specific needs as it relates to the individual classrooms that kids will be in (this) year.”
Kiwanis members put out flyers, posted on social media and called on neighbors for donations. Community members could drop off donations, up until Aug. 23, to Coldwell Banker American Homes or A&C Pest Management in East Meadow.
The club accepted donations of folders, notebooks, pencils, pens, glue, scissors, highlighters, baby wipes, dry erase markers, crayons, plastic bags, hand sanitizer, tissues, supply boxes, binders and loose leaf paper. The club also provided the community with Amazon, Target and Walmart wish lists. Donors could also send money through Venmo, to be used towards school supplies.
The New York Islanders also made a sizeable donation, Reinhardt said, as did the East Meadow Fire Department, helping the club to its most successful drive yet.
“It’s always such an exciting time, I always have fond memories about going back-to-school shopping and getting my new backpack and all my supplies,” Reinhardt said. “This is my Super Bowl, personally.”
After the donation period ended, the Kiwanis got more people involved, putting on various service events where club and community members could help sort through supplies, something that Reinhardt saw to be beneficial.
“They can really see, ‘My donation went this far, it’s filling this many backpacks,’” Reinhardt said.
Some other events the organization puts on throughout the year include a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors in the area, the creation of holiday food baskets, giving scholarships to graduating high school seniors, as well as sending more than 30 community children to a week-long sleep-away camp called Kamp Kiwanis.
East Meadow students returned to school on Tuesday, Sept. 5, some sporting the new backpacks and supplies, thanks to the organization.
Kiwanis’ next fundraiser is its food and toy drive for the holidays. For more information on how to get involved, visit EastMeadowKiwanis.org or reach out via email to email@example.com.