Kiwanis Pancake Days

Once a year, hungry visitors pack into First Congregational Church to enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes and leave feeling satisfied.

Of course, it can be argued whether the satisfaction is from a full belly or from knowing they have helped to raise money to benefit the children of the community.

“Kiwanis Club is really kid-oriented,” said president Tom Hushion. “This event typically raises around $20,000 in two days – that’s pretty good. And all the money stays in the community.”

The event has been so successful, in fact, that the goal has been increased to $22,000, according to president-elect and Pancake Days chair Chad Gardner.

“I think it will be feasible to reach that this year. We have really been promoting the event more and reaching out with social media,” he said.

Gardner, 28, certainly has experience with fundraising as the Relay For Life specialist for Washington County and has been involved with Kiwanis in some incarnation since joining Builders Club at his Cambridge middle school.

“I also worked with Key Club and then Circle K as a student at Marietta College where we were sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club and helped them with a lot of service projects,” Gardner said.

The goal of Kiwanis Club is to serve the children of the world and Gardner was drawn to giving back to his community as well as the global outreach, citing the Eliminate Project, which helps to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Hushion said it is crucial for civic organizations to get young people like Chad on board and helps to “add a set of fresh eyes” to projects such as Pancake Days.

“We rely on our members to reach out to young people in the area, but the dilemma is that, in a small community, all these groups are vying for the same people,” he said.

The Marietta Kiwanis Club will turn 92 in March and boasts 48 member currently. Some projects include landscaping at the middle and high schools, Storybook Park with the Washington County Library, Halloween in the Park, Terrific Kids at Harmar and the BUG (Bringing Up Grades) program at Phillips Elementary.

While Gardner has helped with Pancake Days for several years, this first year at the helm has been a little daunting.

“I thought about it last year that (this year) I would be coordinating it, but we are fortunate to have a lot of veterans and the event pretty much runs itself,” he said.

This will be the 60th year for the fundraising and social event, which draws around 1,600 people each year on Friday and Saturday.

A big attraction is the country store raffle for items donated by the community and more than 80 themed baskets, featuring The Ohio State Buckeyes, camping, Doc McStuffins, Vera Bradley, The Big Bang Theory, Duck Dynasty, books, entertainment, cooking and many more.

Advance tickets are $5 and are available by contacting any Kiwanis member. Call Tom Hushion at 373-1490 for more information. At the door, tickets are $8 and children under 5 are free.