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Kiwanis donates Casino Night monies to Beacon

June 12, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island has donated more than $12,000, which was raised during its 3rd Annual Casino Night, to the Beacon of H.O.P.E. for their Community Learning Programs.

Casino Night Committee member Scarlett Player said the annual event, which was held at the Tarpon Lodge on April 27, was a great success. She said they raised $12,100 in one night, which is awesome.

"We look forward to doing it again next year," she said.

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The event originally started, Player said, because they had quite a few Kiwanis members who volunteered their time for the Beacon of H.O.P.E. Students Achieving Success (SAS) program. She said it was brought to the club's attention that the program needed funds.

Since the Kiwanis motto is helping one child and one community at a time, they decided to hold the annual event to help the Community Learning programs that houses the Community Learning Center. The center is an umbrella for the SAS program, the GED program, English Speakers of Other Language (ESL) and the Pine Island Teen Succeed (PITS) Program.

"Helping the kids is our top priority as a club," Player said. "All the money goes to those programs, it is earmarked especially for them."

Beacon of H.O.P.E. Board of Director's member Elsie Stearns said the donation is tremendous because they are losing $25,000 in grant money. She said there is a certain length of time the money can be granted to the Beacon before a break takes effect.

The grant money helped the organization supplement such programs as ESL and PITS.

"It enables us to build those programs up more," Stearns said of the Kiwanis donation. "The funding from the Kiwanis is tremendous, the amount is going to supplement and allow programs to expand."

The money will also help the Beacon purchase more Rosetta CDs, CD players, DVD players and a microphone for ESL students. She said it will be nice to have a little bit of technology in the classroom to use with the students.

The funds are also allowing the Beacon of H.O.P.E. with the opportunity to offer a Culinary Camp this summer for middle and high school students through the PITS program.

"The funding is going to help us be able to have that camp for students," Stearns said, adding it will "put more of the students through the Culinary Camp."

The annual Casino Night includes dinner at the Tarpon Lodge with a few hours of casino style gambling with chips and tickets, instead of real money. Player said tickets were awarded, which provided the individuals with the opportunity to participate in a drawing.

"The winner of the gambling portion received a one night stay at Weston at Tarpon Point at Cape Coral," Player said.

The event also included live auctions, silent auctions and raffles.

Player said this year Mel Meo did a live painting during the 3rd Annual Casino Night of the sunset while everyone ate and had a good time.

"She did an amazing painting of the sunset at the Tarpon, while we were eating and having a good time," she said.

The painting was then auctioned off during the event.



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