Annual “Chocolate Walk” fundraiser makes a big impact

Annual “Chocolate Walk” fundraiser makes a big impact

A Kiwanis club makes use of its hometown’s renown for an event that’s sweet and scenic.

By Tony Knoderer 

The Kiwanis Club of Lititz Area in Pennsylvania, U.S., raised more than US$90,000 for local kids in October during its 22nd Chocolate Walk. Each year, the club works with chocolate makers big and small to provide treats to attendees. This year, more than 2,000 people bought tickets that allowed them to walk throughout Lititz, gathering goodies from 33 chocolatiers and chefs. 

One reason for the event’s success, says club member Charlie Stickler, is the town itself. 

“Lititz is known as one of the best small towns in America,” Stickler says. “It’s a well-visited tourist area.” 

A scenic small town is a nice place to hold an event where people walk around on an autumn day. It’s also a good place to build an event that people return to year after year — even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. 

“We had rain most of the day,” Stickler says. “But most people, rain or shine, they’re there.” 

Keep ’em coming
After more than two decades, the event’s reputation precedes it. The Chocolate Walk is usually held in the first half of October, with tickets on sale in July. This year, Stickler says, the club had sold out by mid-September.   

That success keeps the chocolatiers — as well as sponsors and partners — coming back. 

“The businesses here say it’s the second or third busiest day in town because of the draw,” Stickler says.  

Of course, a sizable event requires a large number of volunteers to run smoothly — especially for a club with not quite 30 members. This year the Lititz club got help from more than 200 people, including members of the local Key Clubs the Kiwanians sponsor. 

From near and far
At this point, the size and success of the Chocolate Walk attracts people from beyond Lititz itself. In fact, Stickler says, the Chocolate Walk attracts visitors from 16 to 20 other U.S. states every year. 

“A woman called me from New Mexico and asked about tickets,” he says. “She said her family figured, since they were on their way to a family reunion east of us, they might as well try to go to this event they’d heard about.” 

Thanks to the event’s success, the Lititz club has donated funds to several local organizations, such as the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development, Lancaster Cleft Pallet Clinic and the Lititz and Manheim Township Libraries.

How they do it

The Lititz Kiwanis Club doesn’t have a huge number of members — but that doesn’t stop them from having a big impact. Here are some elements of the Chocolate Walk that could help your club’s signature project. 

  • Planning. The club starts planning each year’s Chocolate Walk in January, with monthly meetings that focus on the event. The key, Stickler says, is to keep members in touch with sponsors, partners and volunteers throughout the year. 
  • Recruiting. Members are reminded to talk about Kiwanis. In fact, the club has cards that feature Kiwanis and what members do — and invites people to attend a meeting.  
  • Town renown. Lititz itself is an attraction, so the club maximizes its fundraiser’s appeal by making it a “walk” — rather than restricting the event to one place. And with the town’s history as the home of Wilbur Chocolate, the club builds on a foundation of local renown. What’s your town’s biggest industry or claim to fame? 
  • Sponsors and partners. Fundraisers cost money. The Kiwanis Club of Lititz Area offsets the expense with sponsorships — everyone from the Ford dealer to insurance companies and local retailers. The “stations” along the walk range from shops to the Lititz Historical Foundation building. 
  • SLPs. Sponsoring and maintaining a bond with a Service Leadership Program club results in eager volunteers for the Lititz club. Even during homecoming weekend, Stickler says, the Manheim Township Key Club provided 15 to 20 volunteers. 
  • Add-on events. The success of the Chocolate Walk has encouraged the club to try smaller fundraisers with similar themes — including the Pretzel Fest and a wine-and-chocolate tasting, which cumulatively raise another $20,000 per year. 


Grants fund many ways to read 

Grants fund many ways to read 

Thanks to Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grants, more kids around the world are reading and learning. 

By Erin Chandler 

Kiwanis clubs around the world are turning kids into lifelong learners — and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund is there to help. In August, the Children’s Fund awarded grants to eight clubs that brought books into children’s homes and classrooms, overcame language barriers, bridged learning gaps with online apps and combated the stigmas surrounding learning disabilities. And they recruited lots of new Kiwanians along the way! 

Textbooks and other tools for learning
The Kiwanis Club of Yaoundé, Cameroon, noticed that some children in low-income areas were going to school without the necessary textbooks, while others were not attending school at all. In 2019, the club launched a project in conjunction with area partners to provide textbooks and notebooks to 100 kindergarten and primary school students. The children they helped saw dramatic progress in their academic achievement. With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant, the club hopes to meet this year’s expanded goal of delivering textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils and other school supplies to 250 children.  

The reward of reading
With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund club grant, the Kiwanis Club of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., plans to install book vending machines in area elementary and middle schools that are part of the Title I program. The club estimates that over 5,000 students will be able to select books from the machines as rewards for good deeds, good grades and good citizenship. Club members will also work directly with the students. The machines will be continuously stocked with books purchased through club and school fundraisers.

A little holiday reading
Before the month of December, 60 children in kindergarten through second grade will each be given a basket of 25 giftwrapped books by the Kiwanis Club of Jefferson, Georgia, U.S. It’s all part of the club’s Literary Launch program. One book can be opened each day of December leading up to Christmas, with the addition of a toy to open on the last day. Book basket recipients are selected by local schools based on family income, so that children who might not have many books at home will be able to build their own home libraries. With help from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, the club hopes to purchase all new books this year. 

A community culture of reading
The community of Ormond Beach, Florida, U.S., knows the Kiwanis Club of Ormond Beach as “the organization that gets books into kids’ hands.” Through their Kiwanis READS! Backers-4-Books program, the club supplies books to Ormond Beach Elementary School’s media center and classrooms. They also organize an annual sponsored book fair that lets children take home four books for free. In partnership with Volusia County Library, the club hosts a summer reading challenge and read-a-thon, and at the beginning of the school year, they honor top readers with an ice cream party. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help the club expand its efforts across the five Ormond Beach elementary schools. 

Literacy across languages
Three years ago, the Kiwanis Club of Plano, Texas, U.S., launched Books and Buddies, a project to provide bilingual books in English and Spanish for early readers who come from Spanish-speaking families. The project has received positive feedback from both parents and teachers. This year, a Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant will help the club print 1,500 copies of a brightly colored bilingual booklet containing a story and information about dialing 911 in an emergency. The booklets will be distributed at after-school events and to Boys and Girls Clubs, waiting rooms, Head Start programs and more. 

Apps for accessibility
Last year, the Kiwanis Club of Papine in Kingston, Jamaica, helped 130 students at the Jamaica House Basic School and Danny Williams School for the Deaf improve their literacy skills. The club served the students through a combination of the Lalilo online early childhood literacy tool, donated books, access to virtual libraries, tuition support and a reading competition. However, they had to limit the scope of the project to schools that had access to the necessary electronic devices. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund grant will help them bring students and schools with greater financial need on board with the purchase of more tablets and more accessible devices for deaf students. The Reading For the Stars program saw great success in its first year, with 80% of parents reporting improvements in their children’s reading. The club plans to continue its effectiveness based on regular community needs assessments. 

Literacy through technology
The Kiwanis Club of Imperial Beach-South Bay, California, U.S., is also turning to technology. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help the club purchase more subscriptions to the Readability Tutor online app — as well as tablets so more students can access it. The club will also partner with the local library for literacy events, where they will give out free books. In an area where the primary language in many homes is Spanish — and fewer than 30% of students currently meet English Language Arts curriculum standards — the club hopes to help 100 children in kindergarten through sixth grade to meaningfully enhance their English reading skills and scores through its 2023-24 Literacy Program. 

Raising awareness, fighting stigmas
The Kiwanis Club of Montego Freeport, Jamaica, is helping to end the stigma surrounding learning disabilities. Through its Learning Disabilities Awareness Program, the club partnered last year with Sam Sharpe Diagnostic and Early Intervention Centre to assess 45 students for issues such as ADHD, dyslexia and others. Those in whom learning disabilities were identified have seen improved verbal skills and academic performance, thanks to academic intervention and treatment. In addition, teachers have been trained to recognize signs of learning disabilities. Sam Sharpe is currently the only public facility in western Jamaica that diagnoses learning disabilities, with over 100 students on a waitlist, so the Montego Freeport Kiwanians decided to expand their assessment program this year. A grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help them assess 100 children and establish a support group for parents. 

How you can help
The Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants that improve the lives of children around the world by identifying the projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — one that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes—health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development— whether through a Kiwanis Club’s local service project or through a club’s partner, the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact.   

If you are interested in extending your and your club’s impact beyond your community, make a gift to the Children’s Fundor learn how your club canapply for a grantto help kids in your community. 

New grant fights maternal and neonatal tetanus

New grant fights maternal and neonatal tetanus

Kiwanis works with UNICEF to support mothers and babies around the world.

By Erin Chandler 

Kiwanis International is proud to support UNICEF in its work to protect mothers and babies from maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) with a new grant of US$275,000 from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.  

MNT is a painful and deadly disease that disproportionately exists in areas where poverty, lack of education and inadequate health infrastructure make unhygienic birth practices more common. Kiwanis joined UNICEF in its global campaign to eliminate MNT in 2010, and newborn deaths from tetanus have dropped significantly since then.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 159 babies died every day from tetanus in 2011 — but by 2020 that number had dropped to 66. Of the 59 priority countries assessed to have more than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births in 1999, 47 have since achieved MNT elimination, thanks to the combined efforts of UNICEF, WHO, Kiwanis and others.  

The US$275,000 grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help to facilitate mass tetanus vaccination campaigns for women of reproductive age in the 12 countries where MNT has not yet been eliminated. In addition, the grant will help fund assessments and surveys that monitor and validate the elimination of MNT, and it will help strengthen health systems to ensure the sustainability of elimination efforts.  

This latest grant comes a little over a year after a US$500,000 Children’s Fund grant was earmarked for UNICEF’S efforts to eradicate MNT in Pakistan. That grant was extended into this year when a polio outbreak and devastating floods in Pakistan made it difficult to access target regions.  

Most of the 12 countries where MNT has not yet been eliminated have similarly experienced disease outbreaks, conflict and crises that have made it difficult to deliver reliable healthcare. UNICEF will work to deliver the tetanus vaccine and necessary follow-up immunization in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and the Central African Republic. It will also provide education and training on clean childbirth and umbilical cord care practices so that MNT levels do not rise again. 

Supporting UNICEF’S fight against MNT is just one way Kiwanis has furthered the cause of children’s health around the globe. Kiwanis also partnered with UNICEF to combat iodine deficiency, one of the world’s leading causes of preventable intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs are currently raising funds through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to benefit the Brick x Brick and Start Strong: Zambia initiatives — both of which recognize the inextricable link between healthy childhood development and having a safe place to grow and learn. 

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund continues to support clubs everywhere as they carry out projects to advance the causes of health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development — projects that create a continuum of impact in children’s lives and set them up for bright futures. You can make a gift to the Children’s Fund today to help kids in your community and throughout the world. 

Microgrants enhance kids’ health

Microgrants enhance kids’ health

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund helps seven clubs address kids’ nutrition, physical fitness and comfort

By Erin Chandler

In the months of May, June and July, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund continued to amplify Kiwanians’ ability to change lives in their communities by distributing microgrants to Kiwanis clubs with 35 or fewer members. Kiwanis Children’s Fund grants improve the lives of children around the world by identifying the projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — an impact that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes of education and literacy, health and nutrition, and youth leadership development, whether through a Kiwanis club’s local service project or through a club’s partner, the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact. 

Recent microgrants have gone to Kiwanis clubs around the world collecting school supplies, spreading literacy through physical and virtual libraries, and updating learning spaces for children. The following seven clubs received funding for projects focused on enhancing the health and nutrition of kids in need. 

More nutritious food
At Twin Rivers Elementary School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, U.S., 100% of the students qualify for the free lunch program. For the past two years, the Kiwanis Club of McKeesport White Oak has stepped in to make sure those students with the greatest need do not go hungry over the weekends with their Weekend Food Bag program. Kiwanis club members donate and pack food each week for the students to take home on Fridays throughout the school year. Last year, they gave a total of 1,080 bags of food to 30 students. A Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrant will help the club offer greater quantities of more nutritious food as they extend the program into the 2023-24 school year. 

Summer meals
The Kiwanis Club of Meramec Valley Community, Missouri, U.S., is teaming up with the Valley Park School District and several other local service organizations to make sure students up to age 18 have enough food during the summer months, when school is not in session. Volunteers use school kitchen and lunchroom facilities to store and pack food into lunch bags, which they distribute three times a week at three community sites. The club estimates that 50-75 children will benefit from the program, thanks to the food they purchase with the help of a Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrant.  

Bigger fridge, less hunger
For the past year, the Kiwanis Club of Bachten de Kupe, La Joconde, West Flanders, Belgium, has addressed both food waste and hunger in its community by turning surplus food from farms and businesses into food packages for around 1,000 children in need. Currently, one in eight children in Belgium struggle with food insecurity, and the number is growing beyond the club’s ability to keep up with the demand. A microgrant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will allow the club to purchase a larger refrigerator and double the number of children the project serves.  

Fresh veggies for school lunches
The Kiwanis Club of Leisure World, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S., has a longstanding relationship with Harmony Hills Elementary School, donating clothes and books to students there. Now members are stepping in to boost the students’ nutrition as well. With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrant, the club will donate vegetables from its community garden plot to children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Eight club members will weed, water and manage the garden.  

Outdoor adventures
With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrant, members of the Kiwanis Club of Corabia, Romania, will organize and run AdventureCAMP, a five-day mountain camp for children. Kids involved in the camp will spend time in the great outdoors, participating in two workshops per day on topics including personal development, first aid, road safety, reading a compass, building a campfire, hiking, climbing, ziplining and photography. Club members hope that more kids will reach their potential physically, mentally and socially thanks to their time at the camp.  

Play in a time of transition
When members of the Kiwanis Club of Blairsville, Georgia, U.S., learned that a transition foster care home was being built in their community, they immediately looked for a way to help make it a safe, comfortable place for children waiting for a placement. With help from a Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrant, the club will purchase a playset for Isaiah House #117. Club members will assemble the equipment with the help of their Key Club and local Eagle Scouts. They hope the playset will be a safe and fun haven for hundreds of kids over the years. 

Comfort is a warm blanket
This year, the Kiwanis Club of Mitchell, South Dakota, U.S., has donated 25 fleece tie blankets to first responders, who give them to children in crisis situations. The club’s annual baseball tournament fundraiser was rained out, preventing members from buying supplies for more. A microgrant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help them purchase supplies to meet their goal of making at least 50 blankets per year going forward. Kiwanians schedule days with family and friends to make the blankets. They hope the blankets will help children “know that their community cares about them and will help in their time of need.” 

How you can help
If you want to amplify your impact to reach children around the world through the Kiwanis causes of health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development, you can make a gift to the Children’s Fund or learn how your club can apply for a grant to help kids in your community.

You can learn more about Kiwanis Children’s Fund microgrants on 

Celebrating success at the Marketplace

Celebrating success at the Marketplace

A Kiwanis club in Arizona, U.S., invited the community to help mark a fundraising anniversary. 

By Tony Knoderer 

The Kiwanis Club of Carefree, Arizona, U.S., celebrated the ninth anniversary of its Kiwanis Marketplace with local business leaders on August 10. Located in the nearby town of Cave Creek, the Marketplace was the site of an event that the club cohosted with the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, which invited local business leaders to join the anniversary celebration. 

Kiwanis Marketplace itself is nine years old, but the Carefree Kiwanis Club has been raising funds by giving locals a place to shop, donate and volunteer for more than four decades. The idea originated in the early 1980s, when the club started fundraising with garage sales.  

“It actually started out in a two-car garage,” says Geno Orrico, a longtime club member, past president and current volunteer. 

The garage sales were a hit — so much so that the club was able to award its first scholarship in 1986 for US$500. 

Realizing the potential of these sales, the club struck a deal with the Town of Carefree in 1999 to build a 3,000-square-foot, US$100,000 building on town land with a 20-year lease.  

According to Alex Perez, general manager of Kiwanis Marketplace, the club eventually started raising money to buy land and build a new location. More than US$1.2 million had been raised, he says, when the perfect 18,000-square-foot building became available. The club purchased the building and opened what is now the Kiwanis Marketplace. 

“When it first started, there were zero employees and about 150 volunteers,” Perez says. “It was open four days a week for four hours a day, and it made just under a million dollars. Then it grew and grew — and now today there are 14 employees and around 100 volunteers that come and help. Last year we did over US$2.25 million in sales.” 

Orrico adds that many volunteers have been around since the beginning.  

“It gives you a sense of giving back to the community, and I think that goes for all the volunteers — they feel a sense of self-worth,” he says. “We also have some folks that come here every single day to see what treasures they can get.” 

Thanks to the funds from Kiwanis Marketplace, the Kiwanis Club of Carefree donated more than US$1.2 million last year, sponsoring local school programs, projects such as Family Fun Days at the Cave Creek Museum and renovations at Desert Foothills YMCA. The club has also given US$500,000 to the Kiwanis Scholarship Program in 2023. 

Kiwanis partner boosts literacy and language skills

Kiwanis partner boosts literacy and language skills

A matching grant from Reading Is Fundamental is helping one Kiwanis club expand its local books program.

By Tony Knoderer 

Together, education and literacy comprise one of the causes of Kiwanis International. Among the most ardent supporters of that cause is the Kiwanis Club of Kernersville, North Carolina, U.S.  

When awarded a matching grant of US$6,000 by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) earlier this year, the club was able to expand the scope of its primary goal: to put books in the hands of as many children as possible.  

A Kiwanis partner, RIF awarded 90 matching grants to various organizations during its most recent grantmaking cycle. The grant to the Kiwanians in Kernersville is helping promote literacy — along with attendance, good behavior and multicultural opportunity — to a wider sector of its community. 

HEROs and Cape Crusaders
With the RIF grant, the club is expanding a pilot program that it’s currently conducting in Kernersville Elementary School. The club seeks to introduce the program to four additional schools during the upcoming school year. 

At Kernersville Elementary, students from each of the school’s grade levels (Kindergarten through fifth grade) are eligible to select a book from the Literacy Library bookcase in the school’s main hallway. Eligibility is subject to attendance and behavioral criteria: A student must either be designated as a HERO (Here, Every Day, Ready, On Time) or recognized by a teacher as a “Cape Crusader” for improved classroom behavior and citizenship.  

Each of the four additional schools will determine its own program criteria, and each Literacy Library bookcase will fit the school’s décor.  

In addition to the RIF grant, the Kernersville Kiwanis Club secured matching funds from local businesses and community members to build custom-made bookcases for each school. 
Getting parents involved
Kernersville Elementary School has 207 multi-lingual learners out of a student body of 660 students. In the district as a whole, nearly 15% of students are multi-lingual learners.  

The club shapes its service to the demographics of its area by including Spanish-language and bilingual books.  

In fact, the program will help promote English classes that some area schools hold for parents. The club will include a copy of RIF’s online Family Tip Sheet to encourage parents to read with their children — as well as a simple form for the parent to sign, indicating that the child read the book with them. At school, the child can exchange this form for a sticker that reads, “I Read a Book with My Family.”