TAMPA – The Kiwanis Club of Tampa has a lot of chicken dinners to cook – about 12,000 of them.
It will take members, students from area high schools and colleges as well as other volunteers long hours of hard work for the Oct. 31 event. On the menu for those working that day is setting up a tent in the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium, firing up those industrial-size grills, boxing the dinners, selling and delivering them – and don’t forget the clean-up.
But John Riesenburger, chairman of the 45th annual event, said it more than worth the work when it comes to raising money for the group’s charitable efforts.
“We cannot help the children and the elderly without this,” Riesenburger told members at a recent Kiwanis Club meeting. “It is almost one-half the money we raise each year.”
“The first few years, Kiwanis members and their families would bring their own barbecue grills and grilled chicken to sell,” said Carl Hawkins, club president.
Now it is an assembly line with a team cooking and another dipping the cooked chicken in barbecue sauce. They take the chicken to lines of students who then pack the dinners. Other volunteers drive about the area, delivering meals.
Kiwanis Club members sell individual meals as well as stacks to companies. For delivery, 25 meals or more need to be ordered.
Individuals have an opportunity to drive through Raymond James and pick up the dinner or they can pick one up at a downtown location.
“It’s on Halloween. What a great way to take home a dinner and not have to worry about fixing something,” said club member Linda D’Aquila.
There’s even a friendly competition with four teams of members trying to outdo each other.
Club member John Currie of Tampa Electric Co. is captain of one team and turned in $5,000 in ticket sales at a recent meeting.
“We have gotten several department to provide meals for employees,” he said.
Other tickets are donated to groups such as Meals on Wheels, where participants in that program will receive a chicken dinner.
Proceeds from the sale benefit programs such as Head Start, Joshua House, The Spring, high school Key Clubs and Metropolitan Ministries.
“This is a reflection of this club,” Riesenburger told members. He will become the president of the club in October of 2014.