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Finalists announced for the 2022 Signature Project Contest

Steven Hadt | Apr 12, 2022

Signature projects are the hallmarks of Kiwanis clubs in their communities. Some clubs are known locally for building and maintaining a playground. Others create festivals and fundraisers to support the work that makes a community a better place for all kids.  

Every year, Kiwanis International recognizes the best signature projects from around the world. More than 400 clubs representing 38 districts submitted an entry for the 2022 Signature Project Contest. Each district then selected its nominee to compete against clubs from other districts.

The Service and Partnerships Committee of the Kiwanis International Board of Trustees reviewed the district winners and selected 10 finalists in each tier. Clubs with 27 members or fewer were judged in Tier I while clubs with 28 members or more were judged in Tier II. The median Kiwanis club is comprised of 27 members. 

The gold, silver and bronze winners for each tier will be announced on June 9 at the Signature Project Breakfast during the 2022 Kiwanis International Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Convention registration ends May 1.

Here are the 10 finalists from each tier in alphabetical order:

Tier I (Clubs with 27 or fewer members)

California-Nevada-Hawaii District
Kiwanis Club of Moorpark
Breakfast with Santa

Some of the kids run to Santa. Others are a bit too shy. Whatever the situation, the members of the Kiwanis Club of Moorpark, California, know they're helping kids have a magical holiday season. Every year for the past 20 years, the club has hosted a Breakfast with Santa for the children served by the local food pantry. Everyone gets a hot breakfast and a visit with Santa. Some choose to have their faces painted. And each kid leaves with a toy, while the Kiwanis club members leave with joy in their hearts.

Eastern Canada & the Caribbean
Kiwanis Club of The Garden Parish, Ocho Rios
Primary School Reading Garden

Members of the Kiwanis Club of The Garden Parish, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, say the data shows students’ academic performance is up since the club revived a reading garden at an area elementary school seven years ago. The club was responsible for installing tables and benches inside the garden. The students have been using the space to read, relax and study. The club is in the process of updating the space with gazebos fully wired so students and teachers can charge their devices.

Florida District
Kiwanis Club of North Port
Children's Community Clothing Closet

Families from 11 schools have been turning to the Children's Community Clothing Closet in North Port, Florida, for help. Created for area families who may not be able to afford a school uniform or dress clothing, the closet is managed by the Kiwanis Club of North Port. In 2021, the club increased its outreach and met more families at community events. They even provided clothing to families in Louisiana and Tennessee as people in those states dealt with natural disasters.

Italy-San Marino District
Kiwanis Club Pescara
Lillo and Billo, the Bully

Violent behavior by bullies is to be fought, not suffered—that's the message in “Lillo and Billo, the Bully.” The book is produced by the Kiwanis Club Pascara in the Italy-San Marino District. in fact, the club sees the book as an opportunity to begin the conversation surrounding bullying. They design activities, conferences and meetings around Lillo and Billo. This signature project has become so popular that other clubs throughout the district have joined the initiative.

New England and Bermuda District
Kiwanis Club of Chelsea
Track & Field Day

After a year of being locked down, members of the Kiwanis Club of Chelsea, Massachusetts, say it was great to see kids being kids — running, being silly, having fun and smiling. Each year, the club hosts Track & Field Day in the community. Any student from kindergarten through grade 12 can compete in any of nine challenges. Besides the contests, there's plenty of fun with hula hoops and water balloons. Every member of the 24-person Chelsea Kiwanis club gets involved in the project, which also raises money for four scholarships or apprenticeships.

New Jersey District
Kiwanis Club of Greater Swedesboro
Run/Sit/Walk

A New Jersey District Kiwanis club chartered in 2015 is already making a big difference in the community. The Kiwanis Club of Greater Swedesboro, New Jersey, quickly figured out a way to make an impact for kids in the community and grow its ranks. Chartered in 2015, the club got to work on creating its signature project — The 08085 Run/Walk/Sit. The name is taken from the zip code for the community the club serves. Participants get to choose whether they run or walk on a paved, dirt or wetland path. It's quickly becoming a popular event. The club has raised more than US$21,000 in five years and added 25 members to the roster.

New York District
Kiwanis Club of Springville
Pageant of Bands

The Pageant of Bands is a Springville, New York, tradition. The Kiwanis Club of Springville, in collaboration with a local high school, hosts a two-day festival that transforms the community into a music lover's paradise. There are contests for marching, jazz and concert bands. High school color guards are competing for the top awards too. This club works behind the scenes to keep the pageant moving and everyone fed. They say it's OK they're not front and center in the parade, because the Kiwanis name is everywhere.

Pacific Northwest District
Kiwanis Club of Caveman, Grants Pass
Holiday Candies Annual Fundraiser

The Kiwanis Club of Caveman, Grants Pass in Oregon has helped meet nearly $115,000 in needs throughout the community by selling candy. Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, club members can be found working four-hour shifts in one of three candy trailers or the candy shack in downtown Grants Pass. More than 160 shifts must be filled by the members of this 18-person club. But it's not a task too large because they get to talk about the good Kiwanis does in this community — such as raising funds for food banks, school closets and childhood cancer patients.  

Philippine Luzon District
Kiwanis Club of Quezon Magic, Lucena City
Spoonful of Hope

The Kiwanis Club of Quezon Magic, Lucena City, has leverages partnerships throughout government, religious and civil society to provide nourishing meals to thousands of children from disadvantaged and indigent families. As the “boots on the ground” in the community, the club receives fortified nutrition packages consisting of dehydrated vegetables, vitamins, minerals, rice and soy and distributes them to students at schools and community events. In addition, the club provides the packs when natural disasters such as fires and typhoons strike the community.

Rocky Mountain District
Kiwanis Club of Longmont
Toys For Kids

The Kiwanis Club of Longmont, Colorado, takes pieces of wood that would have been thrown into a landfill or a fire pit and creates wooden toys that bring smiles to about 10,000 kids each year. Each week, volunteers from the club and the community report to the Kiwanis factory to recycle, saw and sand pieces of scrap wood from a local furniture manufacturer. There are approximately 100 patterns of cars, trains and other toys that members choose to make. About 10% of the toys are sold at craft fairs to fund this signature project.

Tier II (Clubs with 28 or more members)  

Alabama
Kiwanis Club of Decatur
Kiwanis Pancake Day

Pancakes are big business for the Kiwanis Club of Decatur, Alabama. It seems the entire community comes out to support Kiwanis Pancake Day every February. Despite the pandemic, 2021 was a banner year for the club, which raised more than $100,000 to distribute to nonprofits that have a mission of supporting children and youth. The 98-member club estimates they've invested nearly $3 million into the community during the 55-year history of Kiwanis Pancake Day.

California-Nevada-Hawaii
Kiwanis Club of Palmdale West
Christmas Giving Project

The Kiwanis Club of Palmdale West, California, knows it’s making a difference in the community when it receives cards that say, “I am so grateful and forever thankful.” For the past 30 years, the club has provided food and gifts to families in need during the holiday season. Working with partners in the school district, the club and its SLP members get a list from 30 families who need a little extra help and then go about serving them.  

Capital
Kiwanis Club of Staunton
Baseball: 1946-2022

The qualities of the Kiwanis Baseball league in Staunton, Virginia, nearly mirror the qualities of the Kiwanis Club of Staunton. Sportsmanship, teamwork and fairness are taught on the field to hundreds of kids between the ages of 4 and 12. The club has been running the league since 1946 — scheduling the games, organizing the equipment and paying the costs associated with this signature service project. Some of the players have made it to the big leagues and played with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles.

Georgia  
Kiwanis Club of Statesboro
Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair

Laughter and excited screams fill the air for six nights every October. It's been this way for 60 years — ever since the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro, Georgia, put on the first agricultural fair. Today, the fair includes carnival food, live entertainment and rides — and a nod to the past in livestock shows. The money raised every year during the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair is donated to more than 200 organizations that make the community a better place for kids.

Indiana
Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana
Balloon Fest

The Kiwanis Indiana Balloon Fest — created by the Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana — has quickly become one of the most popular annual fall festivals in the Bloomington and Monroe County community. Every September, thousands of people come out to see the hot-air balloons’ myriad colors, shapes and sizes. All proceeds from the festival support six Little Free Libraries in underserved neighborhoods and other youth programming by the club's nonprofit partners.  

Michigan
Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor
Club Thrift Sale

When you glance around this almost 60,000 square-foot warehouse, it's hard to imagine the entire operation is a signature project of the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Every weekend, nearly 1,300 customers bust through the doors of the Kiwanis Thrift Sale looking for treasures and finds. But it's the stories of the people shopping that touch the heart — like that of the teacher who came to find a pair of size-10 shoes for a student who was having difficulty walking in her size-6 shoes. All the money raised from the sales is poured back into community needs.

New England and Bermuda
Kiwanis Club of Manchester
Walk with a Child

The Kiwanis Club of Manchester, New Hampshire, sees its signature project as a way to teach children consumer skills, not just a project for providing winter clothing. Each fall, members take kids from low-income families shopping. Each child has a budget, and the adults guide the students on comparison shopping, checking quality and reviewing prices. It's a lesson that helps kids develop the ability to make choices about their clothing.

Pacific Northwest
Kiwanis Club of Olympia
Food Bank Gardens' Greenhouse

The Kiwanis Club of Olympia, Washington, raises, harvests and donates between 25,000 and 35,000 pounds of produce every year. What started as one garden on a small plot in 1990 is now three gardens, where one of them measures about two acres. The produce — such as carrots, peas and potatoes — is sent to the local food bank where the need for fresh fruits and vegetables is insatiable. The club is working to build a greenhouse on one of the farms to provide fresh produce year-round.

Southwest
Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque
Balloon Fiesta Fundraiser

Members from each part of the Kiwanis family come out to support the signature project for the Kiwanis Club of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Five Circle K International clubs and seven Key Clubs help the Kiwanis club sell and collect tickets for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Nearly a million people pass through the gates to watch the colorful hot air balloons launch and glide through the sky. In 2021 alone, the festival netted more than $77,000. Over the event’s 29 years, the club has raised and donated more than $1.5 million to local causes.

Wisconsin-Upper Michigan
Kiwanis Club of Appleton-Fox Cities
Kiwanis 'n Cops 'n Kids

When COVID-19 caused most of its community to shut down, the Kiwanis Club of Appleton-Fox Cities, Wisconsin, found a way to meet the need. The club created the Kiwanis 'n Cops ‘n Kids Reading Together project. The club organized times for police officers to read to kids with appropriate social distancing, such as outside at Little Free Libraries. The club also distributed books, focusing on stories that involve Hmong and Latino characters so that all the kids could see themselves represented in the stories. The project was such a success that the club plans to continue to schedule more readings in the months and years ahead.

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