Woodhaven Kiwanis and WBSD Team Up to Improve Children’s Lives



Woodhaven Kiwanis and WBSD Team Up to Improve Children’s Lives


The Kiwanis Club of Woodhaven works to advance educational opportunities through donations, service projects and fundraisers to help meet needs in the community and around the world. Since its inception in 1976, Woodhaven Kiwanis and Woodhaven-Brownstown School District (WBSD) have partnered to support children in the community. Over the years, Woodhaven Kiwanis has provided WBSD with more than $150,000 of resources, including school funding, products and games.


Paul Elsey, who currently serves as treasurer of Woodhaven Kiwanis, became involved with the organization during his time working for WBSD. He was a teacher, athletic director and principal for the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District for more than 40 years.


One of the many ways Woodhaven Kiwanis supports WBSD students is by encouraging literacy development. The organization sends quarterly book donations at varying reading levels to the elementary school libraries. It also provides “Little Libraries,” which are book boxes placed outside each school and stocked with reading materials. The district encourages families to use these as a way to keep reading exciting throughout the school year and summer. Additionally, every February the Kiwanis Club partners with The Dictionary Project to bring a new dictionary to each third grader. The hope is that they’ll use this resource for the remainder of their educational journey.


“We do as much as we can to support students,” says Elsey. “Whether it be sharing a love of reading through little libraries or collecting nourishing meal options for local food banks, we want students to have a healthy, happy life and learn to give back to their community. As a former WBSD staff member, my roots extend into the schools, allowing me to work directly with the individuals responsible for organizing different activities for students.”


While literacy development is one of the organization’s cherished goals, Woodhaven Kiwanis also helps tackle issues like global hunger, regularly partnering with WBSD students and Kids Against Hunger to assemble nutritious meals for impoverished children and families overseas. Every year on the first Saturday in February, students work together to fill these boxes. The annual drive teaches students the components of a healthy meal, how to work together as a team and the importance of helping others. Each year over 30,000 meals are packed.


“Creating the food packages is a great opportunity to teach students early that they can play a role in helping address local and global challenges,” says Elsey. “It’s one of many opportunities Woodhaven Kiwanis and the district put together where the kids get to practice service by experiencing what it feels like to make a positive difference in another child’s life.”


Each year, Woodhaven Kiwanians invite fourth graders to participate in the annual Kiwanis Fourth Grade Essay contest. The contest has two goals: encourage students to build their persuasive writing skills and encourage a better understanding of charitable giving within the community. The students are asked to complete the sentence: “If I had $100 to donate to a charity, I would choose…”


The author of the winning essay from each school, along with their parents and a representative from their school is invited to join a Kiwanis meeting. At that time, they will read their essay and present a check for $100 from the Kiwanis Club of Woodhaven to a representative of their charity.


This year, Woodhaven Kiwanians held their 46th annual Youth Citizenship awards for the highest grade level in each building. This is not an academic award, but an award for a student who is a leader and has provided a service to their school or community. Schools are asked to identify students who possess outstanding personal characteristics all younger students should emulate. Each school chooses their own winner.


Another example of Woodhaven Kiwanis’ commitment to WBSD is its annual fundraiser for the Child & Family Life Department at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Held at Woodhaven High School in memory of Maddie Pawelczyk, a former Woodhaven Kiwanis volunteer and WBSD student, Secret Recipes Family Dining caters a buffet at the fundraiser that is organized in partnership with the Woodhaven High School hockey and swim teams. This year, the event raised more than $10,800 in gift cards and donations for patients and their parents. 


 “One of the events we’re grateful the students help us organize is our annual C.S Mott Children’s Hospital fundraiser,” said Elsey. “Our relationship with the hospital and its Child & Family Life Department is one of our most storied and committed causes, so we pour ourselves into making the annual fundraiser as successful as possible. It’s great that the students can help us ensure that outcome.”


With support from businesses and organizations in the community, WBSD students are better positioned to thrive in the district and a post-graduation world. If your business or organization is interested in partnering with Woodhaven-Brownstown School District, please call (734) 783-3300 or visit mywbsd.org.