Children’s Fund grant helps Florida Kiwanians serve homeless

Sep 12, 2018

Florida DCON 1Being able to take a shower or wash a load of clothes are daily tasks most of us take for granted. But for people who are homeless, there are few places where they can go to meet these basic needs while being treated with respect and dignity.

With the help of a district grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, Florida Kiwanians took time during their district convention to assemble hygiene kits that were distributed to a homeless center in Orlando. It was one of the largest service projects in the district’s 101-year history.

Kiwanis-family members, including Aktion Club, Key Club and CKI members, worked with Clean the World to assemble the hygiene kits that were distributed to The Oasis Homeless Center in Orlando.

“The items were desperately needed,” says Dan Ryan, director of client services for The Sharing Center, which runs The Oasis. “We normally get a few items here or there. This will allow us to stock our supplies for the rest of the year.”

Event organizer Cheryl Cantrall agreed the project was “a huge success.”

“In less than two hours, we were able to assemble approximately 2,000 hygiene kits,” says Cantrall, whose husband, Matthew, is a former Florida District governor.

Kiwanians stuffed the kits with basic hygiene amenities, such as travel-size soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion/bath gel, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a washcloth. They also wrote inspirational notecards.

About 20 clients use the center every day to take a shower, do laundry, get haircuts or use a computer or cellphone charger. They also have access to services that can put them on a road to employment and secure housing. The Sharing Center also runs a food pantry and thrift store and offers financial assistance to help clients with expenses such as utility bills, rent payments and car repairs. (1)Ryan said the timing of the donation was perfect because they were running low on supplies.

“If we don’t have supplies, that doesn't mean we aren’t open for clients. It means we have to go out and buy the supplies,” he says, adding that money is better spent helping a client pay for a car repair so they can get to work.

Cantrall says the center was overwhelmed with the donation, and the impact of the project was immediate.

“Good hygiene habits can make one feel good about themselves,” she said.

The items were collected from hotel chains that partner with Clean the World to recycle and reuse leftover or partially used hygiene articles. Since its founding in 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 45 million bars of soap to more than 127 countries. This work has diverted millions of pounds of waste from landfills and helped reduce the deaths of children from hygiene-related illnesses.

Under the Children’s Fund’s grant program, districts can use grant money to support activities within at least one of the Children’s Fund focus areas: health, education and youth leadership development. Districts could also choose for their grant funds to support The Eliminate Project. Grant awards equal 15 percent of a district's total undesignated giving to the Children’s Fund from the previous Kiwanis year.

Providing grants to districts and clubs is one of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund’s five causes. The Children’s Fund also supports Service Leadership Programs, disaster relief funding, The Eliminate Project and the elimination of iodine deficiency disorders.

  • Learn more about district grant program here.
  • Go here to make a gift to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.