Since its inception in 1994, the Wilbur Davis KIDS — Kiwanis is Donating Smiles — appeal, has sent thousands of underprivileged youngsters to Busch Gardens for a day of having fun and making memories. The Busch Gardens-Kiwanis Foundation partnership, which includes the Virginia Gazette, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Foundation, a Tax Exempt organization under IRS Section 501(c)3.
The program has produced hundreds of wonderful stories over the years. Here are a few:
» A formerly homeless family of six with mom diagnosed with MS and father working sporadically spent a day at Busch Gardens. The kids had never been there before and absolutely loved riding all the roller coasters.
» A single mother of three works full time making just enough to cover her bills. With nothing to offer her children for summer fun, she was deeply depressed until she was given passes to Water Country USA. At the end of a wonderful day, the children had to be torn away. They never wanted to leave.
» A single father of four struggled with learning issues and an anxiety disorder that challenged his ability to balance work and parenting. The agency worked to help Dad develop the skills needed to prevent a foster care placement for his children. In tribute to his hard work, he was given BG passes to celebrate keeping his family together.
The City of Williamsburg offers a Summer Youth Achievement program and the coveted tickets to Busch Gardens are an essential part of the rewards established for those who regularly attend and actively engage in the daily activities.
KIDS plays a valuable role in developing the life skills of many at risk youths.
Today, thanks to community support, our Kiwanis foundation has grown to more than $500,000. The money is carefully invested and the Board has designated five percent of that total to be added to dollars raised by various activities of the club — Shrimpfest, Fourth of July Ice Cream Social, Shamrock the Burg — which then are given to important youth oriented community agencies such as Avalon, Bacon Street, CASA, 4-H, Headstart and Latisha’s House each year. Over the past eight years, the Foundation has added more than $149,000 to the club’s contributions to the groups.
Please consider a gift to the Williamsburg Kiwanis Foundation so that kids who rarely have a good day can have a great one! The suggested donation is $75, but any amount will be gratefully accepted. As one of our kids has said and we’ve never forgotten: “This is the best present in the whole world!”
Ripple is the Executive Director for Advancement for the Williamsburg Kiwanis Foundation.
Send donations to The Kiwanis Foundation, 1323 Jamestown Road, Suite 103, Williamsburg, VA 23185.