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Kiwanis Club to host 38th annual Kiwanis Spaghetti Dinner on Saturday

By Staff | Feb 21, 2018

TIFFANY REPECKI The Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club will hold its 38th annual Kiwanis Spaghetti Dinner on Feb. 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. From left, Kiwanians Ed Ridlehoover, Pete Bender and Tom Sharbaugh made up the committee for this year's event; club member Bill Hay is not pictured.

This weekend, the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club will cook up and serve over 3,500 meatballs, more than 250 pounds of spaghetti and about 80 gallons of marinara sauce in a long-standing tradition.

The 38th annual Kiwanis Spaghetti Dinner will take place on Feb. 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. One of the club’s two major fundraisers for the year, the event will feature an all-you-can-eat Italian feast, along with raffles, live and silent auctions, and music.

“This is our big block party for the year for the community,” Tom Sharbaugh, one of the members on the four-person committee that organized this year’s dinner, said.

He noted that the fundraiser is more casual than other events, but for a reason.

“We’re preserving something that we think is important for the island,” Sharbaugh said, adding that there has always been an open community feel to it. “It’s really kind of the soul of the islands.”

Tickets are $10 in advance or $11 day of; ages 9 and under are free.

Dinner includes spaghetti, meatballs and sauce, garlic bread and salad, along with wine or soda. Following the dinner, coffee and dessert will be available, which is also included in the price.

“It’s basically a fun evening where you can enjoy good food that’s reasonably priced,” Pete Bender, another committee member, said.

The first dinner was held in the early 1970s to raise funds for The Sanibel School.

“It was originally done to raise money for air conditioning for the school,” Sharbaugh said.

“Back then there wasn’t a lot going on on the island, so everybody came to it,” he added.

The one-time fundraiser was resurrected in 1980 and has been held every year since.

The last couple of years, the club has been serving hundreds of attendees.

“We’ve been serving somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600 people,” Sharbaugh said.

Committee member Ed Ridlehoover pointed out that the day kicks off at 7 a.m. as the “garlic bread crew” begins assembling the loaves, and the cooking and serving continues well into the night.

“People are working all day long and then we have to clean up at the end,” he said.

City dignitaries and other volunteers, like family, friends and youth groups, also help out.

In 2017, the club raised about $32,000 out of its total $123,000 from the dinner.

“We kind of have a target for $35,000,” Bender said of this year’s goal.

The proceeds raised support youth recreation and education activities through grants.

“That money goes to benefit the children on the island and those who have an island connection,” Bender said, adding that the club distributes $30,000 each year via a scholarship program.

Local non-profits that provide support to families and youth have also been recipients, including F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, Community Housing and Resources, CROW, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Public Library, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, city scholarship fund and more.

“They have to have some connection or other to island youth,” Sharbaugh said.

“The money we raise here stays here,” Bender added.

In addition to the dinner, there will $1 raffle tickets for sale for a range of items.

“Close to 100 items and it varies,” Ridlehoover said.

There is everything from chlorine for swimming pools, a wooden house from Sanybel’s Finest and hand-crafted pottery, to gift certificates for restaurants and businesses, along with gift packages.

“A lot of artists on the island donate a picture or painting,” he said.

Winners do not have to be present to win.

Also, there are about 34 items in the silent auction, with at least a dozen in the live one.

Items up for grab are rounds of golf and golf equipment, fishing gear and trips, paintings of the Sanibel Island Lighthouse and more, along with a one-and-a-half hour plane ride with a former Navy pilot.

“We have a personal flight over the island,” Sharbaugh said.

Bidding in the silent auction will close at 8 p.m.

Ridlehoover noted that even youth will find items of interest, like bicycles and electronics.

“There’s kids’ stuff out there, too,” he said.

Live music will be provided by a deejay, and there is plenty of dancing.

“The people with kids love it,” Ridlehoover said.

Dozens of sponsors, along with item and service donations, help to ensure the fundraiser’s success.

“We couldn’t do it without the support of the business community,” Bender said.

To purchase tickets in advance, stop by Bailey’s General Store, the Bank of the Islands, Periwinkle Park and Campground or Big Red Q Quickprint Center. Kiwanians also have tickets for sale.

For more information, visit online at sanibelkiwanis.org.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way.