It’s Crazy What They Do to Raise Cash!
For the 15th year, the Manchester Kiwanis Club is sponsoring its “Crazy Cash” night to raise funds for community projects beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 1.
The name is somewhat descriptive of the evening’s atmosphere, according to Cindy Kenney, Kiwanis President and the publicity chair for this year’s event. “I’m just figuring it all out myself,” she says with a chuckle, “even though this is my third year of being involved.”
The craziness begins with the fact that this event is basically a reverse raffle—rather than having the first ticket drawn be the winner, it’s actually the last ticket drawn that creates the climax of the event after much excitement throughout the evening. An eight-page program for the event helps newcomers—who may be confused by all the excitement and activity—to acclimate to all the different prizes and happenings that are taking place around the hall.
The event starts with a full-course prime rib dinner and dessert, all provided by The Moveable Feast, here in Manchester.
“Dan (Huntsbarger) has done this for us since the beginning,” Kenney said. “And his contribution is always very generous. That has helped the success of the Cash Night for many years; those indirect contributions are so important to making this a great evening.”
The first ticket drawn wins $250, which is certainly a cause for celebration. But the biggest thrill comes at the end of the evening, as the next-to-last ticket drawn wins $1,000 and the final grand prize wins $5,000. In between, there are drawings for $100 prizes, not to mention the various side boards that provide a chance to win anything from cash to an iPad or a flat screen TV. Silent auctions also provide an opportunity for participants to win valuable merchandise, as well as other raffles for smaller items, gift certificates, and other prizes—nearly all donated by local merchants and businesses. In total, at least $12,000 in cash will be won that night.
One unique aspect of the “craziness” is that tickets numbered 199 and 200, are held out and offered for bidding late in the evening, Kenney explained. This allows people whose numbers have already been drawn, to participate in the excitement of the final drawing.
“When there are only 15 numbers left, you have a higher chance of winning, and those two tickets are auctioned off at that point,” she said. “Quite often, in the past, groups of people have pooled their money to bid on those last two tickets, because their chances are so good to be among the last two numbers drawn.”
Using this formula, the Kiwanis Club has facilitated donations to local organizations of more than $234,000 over the years, and Kenney says the group hopes to be able to top $250,000 after this year’s events.
“We have pledged $10,000 in donations so far, to eight different organizations,” she said. “We wanted to be very conservative in our pledges this year, because we weren’t sure what the funeral home would charge us for use of the (Legacy Realty) building (formerly the American Legion hall). However, they have been very generous in allowing us to use this beautiful, newly-renovated facility at the same price as in previous years, which shows quite a commitment to our event and to the wider community.”
Kenney explained that the Kiwanis has always raised between $10,000 and $17,000 in the past, and averages about $13,000 per year. All proceeds from the Crazy Cash night will be distributed to community organizations—if Kiwanis raises more than they have already pledged, there are additional applicants to whom they the remaining funds can be donated.
Other beneficiaries of the cash night are the Kiwanis Key Club Scholarships which are presented to senior Key Club members graduating from Manchester High School.
One exceptional thing about the Cash Night is that a small core group of Kiwanians can coordinate such a large one-night effort. In the time-honored tradition of “it takes a village,” the Kiwanis membership, normally numbering around 28, swells to at least 90 volunteers for this special community event.
“The way we get people to help is that if a group requests project funding, they are asked to provide volunteers the night of the event and also to sell tickets for the raffle,” Kenney explained. “Even though the Kiwanis Club is the coordinator and facilitator of the event, this is for the community and we don’t keep any of the money. So we ask that community to help us make our event happen. And every year, it works!”
Kenney said that ticket sales have been consistent, so far, with previous years and she fully expects a sell-out crowd again for this year’s raffle. While the Kiwanis expects lots of newcomers, they also know that each year brings back many loyal Cash Night attendees, some of whom have attended every raffle since the beginning.
Tickets are still available this week at the Coffee Mill, Ash Auto, or from any Kiwanis member. Any unsold tickets will be offered at the door (doors open at 6 p.m.), at the face value of $100 per couple. For more information, please contact the Crazy Cash Night Chair, Anita Herman, at 428-0104.