It was a beautiful morning for a pancake breakfast! The Kiwanis Club of Oakland Park hosted their annual Pancake Breakfast fundraiser this past Saturday. On pause for the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person fundraiser and feast has been promoted widely throughout the city. Cars of people were parked up and down the warehouse district streets in anticipation to join neighbors, flapjacks, and a piping hot cup of coffee.
With an entry ticket for only $5, (and mimosas at only $3!), it is a breakfast you can’t beat. If you have never been to the event, this is your sign to make sure you attend next year.
You’d never know the party inside the American Legion until you walked through the door. As sweet as could be, two volunteers dressed as witches, helped show guests to their seats and offered refills of coffee. A dinosaur shuffled over with a glass of fresh milk. We talked to some of the high school volunteers and costumed hosts, and learned they travel from all over the County to help dedicate their time to raise money for children and the Club’s activities.
One of the loveliest parts of the event was the large community feel of family style dining. Tables with neighbors who most likely hadn’t met before, of all ages and backgrounds, sat together and shared some laughs. One table sat 3 local Oakland Park firefighters who were having a nice breakfast at the start (or end) of their shift. A few chairs down, a nice family of 4 enjoyed their meal dressed in their Halloween best.
Thanks to the social media outpour of support, silly costumes, and word of mouth, the event served over 450 breakfasts! This equals over 1,000 pancakes flipped, 1,000 sausages fried up and sliced, and gallons of syrup drizzled for the hungry and happy participants.
Dennis Buchta, a long-time member of Kiwanis, was fitted in a striped-green frog costume and announced the 10-minute raffle round winners on his megaphone. “Loretta Lynn” strutted in her knee-high white boots selling raffle tickets left and right. With a ticket only $1 a piece, a winner was chosen every 10 minutes before starting the game, and buying of tickets, all over again.
Each winner could pick their own prize, including mini foosball tables, spooky skeleton mugs filled with treats, handmade crocheted blankets, or a 3 pack of specialty rum!
A bake sale with scrumptious sprinkled cupcakes, white chocolate pretzel rods, and banana breads were also for sale and had a beautiful layout. Extra funds were raised from the sale of the donated goods. With all of the wonderful preparations from the volunteers and donations, the Kiwanis Club of Oakland Park raised close to $7,000 in just the few hours at the hall!
Known for their orange shirts and smiling faces, The Kiwanis Club began in 1915 by a group of businessmen in Detroit who wanted to improve communities for children. Today more than 550,000 volunteers are registered members from around the globe.
Dennis is one of the board members for the local chapter. When asked to provide a recap of the fabulous pancake breakfast, he mentioned it had to be after his prior engagement of “backpacks” that morning. We were intrigued to learn more about the activity, which takes place once a week with the 55 members and volunteers. The Kiwanis backpack program provides food weekly to families in our community.
Backpack-packing began over 15 years ago, after the group was inspired by Ashley and Naomi Judd, who provided meals and household staples to children of coal miners. As the popularity of “Buy-one Get-one” sales (BOGO) took off in grocery stores like Publix, the members figured they could provide more meals to children in the community by promoting “buy a can, give a can”, or box of noodles, cereal, etc. As word spread, so did the number of families who would benefit from the program. Now, Dennis and the volunteers pack 60 bags every week to distribute to the community who needs it.
Oakland Park Kiwanis is a 501-3c non-profit and donations are tax deductible.
By following along the local chapter’s Facebook page and website, you can see all the great events and fundraisers that are coming up. And do not be shy! If you see one of the members in the bright orange shirts perusing an aisle for some canned goods, introduce yourself. Share a story or ask how you can help a child in the neighborhood.
Keep an eye out for the BOGO specials all year round, as the Kiwanis Club will be feeding families in our neighborhoods and providing more Pancake Breakfasts for the years to come.
Samantha Jarvis has a MS in Parks and Resource Management. She has spent the last 15+ years in science communication and outreach.
Passionate about wildlife, environmental justice, and providing outdoor education for younger generations, she also enjoys supporting local businesses and breweries.
She lives in Oakland Park with her husband, 2 young boys, 3 dogs and 100 lb. tortoise. Rocket.