The Kiwanis Club of Oceanside’s Pancake Madness fundraising event on March 5 surpassed club members’ expectations, and they described it as the largest family gathering in town since the coronavirus pandemic began three years ago.
For over 20 years, the club has held the breakfast to raise money to help children near and far. Members of Oceanside High School’s Key Club; the Builders Club, at the middle school; and Key Kids, from the elementary schools, helped out by organizing the event, serving food and helping with games and activities.
“With the money that we raise with the pancake breakfast, we send children to an upstate camp, help needy children, sponsor a lot of activities through the Department of Community Activities,” said Nancy Baxter, one of the Kiwanis organizers. “We also serve veterans and seniors, and work with the hospital when they’re in need of things,” she added, referring to Mount Sinai South Nassau.
The fundraising didn’t start on the day of the breakfast, but rather months before, with members calling local officials, organizations, businesses and individuals, inviting them to buy advertising space on the placemats given to hungry attendees. Before any batter was mixed, the club raised $5,600.
Nearly 60 raffles and baskets, which collectively are the biggest money-maker at the event, were also planned months in advance by Kiwanis secretary Jeanine Badalementi. “We’re lucky we have such a supportive community,” she said, “and everybody was able to donate as generously as they could, and our members really step up and donate whenever they can.”
The breakfast came on the heels of the club’s months long popcorn fundraiser, which raised $38,000 and was given to a number of organizations, including the Pediatric Trauma Center at Cohen’s Children Hospital, the Pediatric Lyme Disease Foundation and Kamp Kiwanis, in upstate Utica.
“We’re very proud,” said club President Michael D’Ambrosio, “not only of all our volunteers, but all of the community that comes out and supports this organization.”
Continuing that the Kiwanis club members, and local politicians on both sides all helped out to make the event successful. “We have to thank everybody coming down to make this event a financial success so we can help other kids out and (take care of) their primary needs and families,” he said.
Volunteering not only helps the children get community service hours, but helps them learn to socialize. Some volunteers surprised Kiwanis members by making posters to help direct families through the church to the event. It was the first time in a long time, Baxter said, that kids did that.
“It’s all about kids helping kids,” D’Ambrosio said. “Helping children, but also children helping children.”