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Longboat Key Thursday, Mar. 17, 2022 5 months ago

Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key gives Lawn Party funds to Children's Guardian Fund

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The event brought in $90,000, while direct donations from attendees brought in another $30,000.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

There was no shortage of green at the March 17 meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key.

Club members celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green and took the day to tie up the final count of the funds brought in from the Lawn Party in December. At the meeting, the club officially passed along its $90,000 check to Children’s Guardian Fund. 

“We’re excited to be doing the rewarding of the green today,” club President Michael Garey said. 

All told, the club brought in more than $120,000 for the organization, which helps local children in foster care and focuses on getting them tutoring. Funds from the Lawn Party, sponsorships, matches and direct donations from Lawn Party attendees made up the total. Previously, a Lawn Party had brought in about $60,000, said Kiwanis Foundation chair Bob Gault. 

“It’s a proud and great day for our club,” Garey said. 

To celebrate, Garey invited the event’s biggest sponsors to come for breakfast, including Cynthia Craig and Ken Schneier and Jim Brown from the Longboat Key Foundation. Chuck Whittall, CEO of Unicorp National Developments, which is building the Residences at the St. Regis Longboat Key Resort, was the platinum sponsor and provided a brief update on the construction project.

He hopes to make the St. Regis property a part of the community for events to come. 

“We’re happy to be part of this and part of the community, and we will keep doing this,” Whittall said. 

Craig is a guardian ad litem with Children’s Guardian Foundation and works with the foster children in the program. There are about 1,200 children in the local foster system and Children’s Guardian Fund works primarily with children in the care of relatives rather than in licensed foster care, as relatives receive less of a subsidy to care for the children and often struggle to do so. 

“The children, when they get to school, they start out behind,” Craig said. “If you can imagine a race, and here's the starting line, they're not even in the parking lot. So we have come to recognize that the best thing we can do for these kids is to provide academic tutoring one-on-one, to get them up to speed as fast as we can. It has been a phenomenally successful program and until now, we always had more requests for tutoring than we could pay for. Now we can pay for everybody who wants it and needs it, and we don't have to cut it off. If the child is participating and trying, we'll keep going as long as the child needs it, and it's all because of you.”

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