Santa and Mrs. Claus paid a visit to Manatee Elementary School on December 15, courtesy of the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island. That day, eight hundred pre-k through fifth grade children received Christmas gifts. Kiwanis had worked hard all year to fundraise and purchase the gifts for the kids, some of whom will not receive anything else this Christmas.
The joy was seen on the young faces, lined up and waiting eagerly to meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Some were bursting to tell Santa they had been good, others hugged Mrs. Claus sweetly. “Thank you Santa!” could be heard over and over again throughout the day. Tears were in the eyes of some Kiwanians, whose club focuses on making the lives of children better.
The distribution took hours asthe teachers led their classes into the Manatee Media Center. Principal Wendy Borowski told us “this is the children’s favorite day of the year.” During the set up, as the toys were being brought in and the media center decorated, the excited children could be seen “peeking in the windows,” Principal Borowski added.
The task was big one, and Kiwanis received help from Marco Island Academy Key Club members, who helped distribute toys throughout the day. For months the high school students organized toy drives and volunteered at fundraising events to make sure local children could have a toy at Christmas. Many local organizations also helped, including the Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron who donated nearly one hundred toys.
It is sometimes hard to remember that there are children living in poverty righthere in our community. Dr. Kathleen Reynolds, Kiwanis president-elect, said, “People don’t realize how many families are in need.” Throughout the year, not just at Christmas, Kiwanis works hard at identifying and helping to meet the needs of our local children, whether it be through RIF book distributions, providing scholarships or any of the numerous other programs they support.
The Kiwanis Club of Marco Island welcomes new members who want to help them in their mission to improve the lives of children. To learn more about joining the Kiwanis Club stop by for a breakfast meeting ($12) at Stonewalls, 551 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, on Thursday mornings at 7:30 AM. Come a little early for the best parking and to get a chance to chat before the meeting starts. For more information go to www.kiwanisclubofmarcoisland.org.