ST. MARYS — The smell of pancakes, syrup and sausage filled the air of the American Legion as part of a service group’s semiannual fundraiser.
The St. Marys Kiwanis Club held its first pancake day of the year on Saturday as members served up pancakes and sausage to hungry visitors. For the club, the breakfasts serve as a major fundraiser.
“We are doing great and having a wonderful time here today,” Club President Randy Henkener told The Evening Leader. “We’ve had a lot of great people who bought tickets ahead of time and a few buying day of and we appreciated the support. It’s one of our major fundraisers to help us support the children in the community.”
In addition to serving up pancakes, Kiwanians offered gas cards. The raffle also helped to supplement the group’s coffers that fund its various programs throughout the year.
“We roll that money over to be able to support the community,” Henkener said. “We’ve got a lot of great volunteers here today.”
Members of the Aktion Club also helped during the breakfast. The service group helped bus tables as a way to help out Saturday.
As a steady stream of customers filed into the legion hall, Henkener said he believed it was a sign of how much the community appreciates the Kiwanis Club and all it does for St. Marys.
“If you go to various events, you will see various Kiwanis trademarks out there — Walk with Nature, SummerFest, where we have a food tent,” Henkener said. “When you see Kiwanis, it tells you some idea that your money is heading that way.”
The club also supports the American Legion’s Buckeye Boys and Girls State, youth baseball and softball and the Aktion Club. Henkener praised the work of the Aktion Club for helping to make the pancake breakfast a success.
“They raise money — we give them money for helping us out today — and they give the money to support people in need,” Henkener said. “That is kind of a twist and it’s a wonderful twist.”
Prep work for the breakfast started with a crew of volunteers on Friday night. Another crew arrived early Saturday morning and doors opened at 6:30 a.m.
“We have about 10 people from the Aktion Club and 20 people from Kiwanis helping out today,” Henkener said. “Friday night we have people who may not be able to help out Saturday get things out. We’ve got to get the griddles out here, the toasters and to put the groceries out to prepare. Then on Saturday at about 5 a.m., we have a small handful of volunteers who come out and get things turned on so they are ready to cook. The serving crew shows up at about 6 a.m. to get things going.”
Typically the group draws in 600 people to the pancake breakfast. By 10:45 a.m., 408 people passed through the doors.
“By 9 a.m., things really start to pick up,” Henkener said. “Like it or not, we are weather dependent. The better the weather the more likely people are out mowing their lawns instead of coming to pancake breakfasts. That’s why presales are always important to us.”
Henkener encouraged anyone interested in joining Kiwanis to attend a meeting. The club meets at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday in the Galen Cisco room at the St. Marys Eagles.
“If you are interested in participating in some fun events, this is the club to be in,” Henkener said. “There are relatively low annual dues, it’s not an assessment club. No one is asking anyone for money to do this or do that. We raise money by our various activities and roll it back over into the community.”