Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation

Purpose: to aid people in need of assistance, particularly young people; to assist youth in attaining vocational excellence; to aid persons with disabilities in attaining happy, useful lives

Mission:  to support programs and activities that nurture the lives of children with emphasis on the youth in our community.

Activity:  1.  To expend funds directly for such purposes or by furnishing funds to entities organized for charitable, scientific, or educational purposes, especially those organized to assist children and youth and those working to prevent child abuse.

                2.  To solicit, accept, and acknowledge gifts made to the Foundation with the intention of promoting the success of the Foundation’s mission and purpose.

2021-22 Officers:  Edward Schmitz, President; Martha Sites, Secretary; Barbara Ritter, Treasurer. 

2021-22 Directors:   Tom Lowe, Jeanne Masloff; Don Foss. Gordon Hair.  Ex-Officio Member of the Board: Current Kiwanis President, Jim Hart.

Our Six Pillars or Current Major Emphases

​1. Service Leadership Programs (SLPs) for Children, Youth, and Adults:

            Key Club–the oldest and largest service organization for high school students, Key Club teaches leadership through service to others.  Kiwanis Charlottesville awards the   J. T. Graves Memorial Youth Scholarship every year to outstanding graduating Key Clubbers in the clubs we sponsor.  The 2020 winners were Jonathan Swap, Albemarle County High School; Chloe Kienzle, Western Albemarle High School; and Hannah Alther, Monticello High School.

Builders Club–provides middle school students with opportunities to develop leadership, improve self-esteem, increase civic engagement and learn life skills through service. Kiwanis Kids (K-Kids)–provides elementary school students with opportunities to work together on service projects, develop leadership potential, and create strong moral character.  The K-Kids Club at Venable Elementary School is directed by volunteers from the Circle K International Club at UVA.   Circle K International (CKI)–the premier collegiate and university community service, leadership, and friendship organization in the world.

Aktion Club–Aktion Club is the only service club for adults with disabilities, with more than 12,000 members worldwide.  Aktion Clubs draw members from various organizations that support individuals with disabilities, as well as other community programs.  It provides members opportunities to serve their communities while developing initiative and leadership skills. In March 2017, the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville board approved the establishment of two Aktion Clubs in Charlottesville,  The Jefferson Area Aktion Club held its organizational meeting on August 29 at the Virginia Institute of Autism’s Adult Day Center in cooperation with Innisfree Village and was chartered officially on  November 15, 2017.  The club meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 2 p.m. at the Church of Our Saviour Community Outreach Center called “The Mission.”  For more info see:    Gifts to the Foundation can be designated specifically for “Aktion Club.”

2.  The Key Leader Program

 Key Leader is a leadership development weekend for high school students ages 14-18 and is open to all high school students, not just Key Club members.  The goal is to give each student participant an opportunity to experience personal development, growth and fellowship.  They learn about achieving excellence and becoming a true leader in all aspects of their lives.  For many, it is a life changing program

          The Capital District held its Spring  Key Leader Weekend at Jamestown 4H Camp in Williamsburg, VA on April 27-29, 2018.  And the fall Key Leader Weekend was held at Camp Snyder in  Haymarket VA from Nov. 9-11, 2018. The event scheduled for April 24-26, 2020 in Jamestown had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. A unique “virtual” Key Leader weekend will be held May 14-15, 2021 via Zoom. Visit for details and registration.   The Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation financially supports the attendance of two students from each of the four high schools where Kiwanis sponsors Key Clubs.  Tax-deductible gifts may be made to the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation to help defray the cost of sending a local student to Key Leader

3.   Kiwanis Cozy Comforts Backpack Project    (formerly Sweet Dreams Project)

Kiwanis Cozy Comforts is a gift of love and support for children and families in transitional and/or difficult situations.The goal is to show these families and children they are warm, safe, and cared for and to inspire them to have fun together as well.  Items in each backpack will vary based on need but might include hand-made blankets to surround them with warmth; books and puzzles to share together as a family; nightlights for security and safety; and personal care items to ensure health and well-being.  In three + years we have presented more than 250 backpack kits to 6 agencies.  Our hope is that this small gesture and thought will bring a sense of security and comfort to these children and their families as they navigate the challenges of transition and ensure them that they are happy, healthy, safe and loved. 

  • The first Kiwanis Cozy Comforts event, helping fourteen families identified by Jefferson Area Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHiP), took place on April 6, 2017. 
  • The second event took place on September 21, 2017 where fifteen uniquely designed and individually filled backpacks were given to the staff at People Places for children entering into the foster care/adoptive family situation. 
  • At the third event facilitated by the Salvation Army, on Feb. 15, 2018, fifteen Cozy Comforts backpacks were given each to Elk Hill School and toDePaul Community Resources.  
  • We returned to People Places on Aug. 14, 2018 and presented ten  “Cozy Comfort Kits.” 
  • On October 4, 2018  Kiwanians delivered fifteen uniquely packed “”Cozy Comfort Kits” to the children who are victims of domestic violence and who are currently being cared for by the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE).
  •  People Places received fifteen Kiwanis Cozy Comforts backpacks on Feb. 22, 2019.  These treasures will be handed out to children immediately as they enter the foster care system in the coming months.   
  • In a special collaboration with the Charlottesville Dogwood Foundation, forty-one unique Cozy Comfort Kits filled with notebooks, knitted hats, toys, mints and so much more to help parents and siblings during the stay in the NICU, were delivered by Dogwood Festival Queen Loren Black to the University of VIrginia Children’s Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on April 4, 2019. 
  •  People Places received fifteen Kiwanis Cozy Comforts backpacks on August 2, 2019.  These treasures will be kept on hand, ready to be given to children immediately as they enter the foster care system in the coming months.
  • On September 20, 2019  the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) received fifteen uniquely packed “”Cozy Comfort Kits.” SHE staff will present them to children who are victims of domestic violence and who are currently being cared for by this agency.
  • On July 30, 2020 forty-five “Cozy Comforts Kits” were presented to representatives of Ready KidsElk Hill, and SHE.
  •  People Places received fifteen Kiwanis Cozy Comforts backpacks on February 4, 2021. 
  •  People Places received fifteen Kiwanis Cozy Comforts backpacks on October 18, 2021.
  • On December 6, 2021 Shannon Banks of  Ready Kids asked for and received three Cozy Comforts Backpacks “to keep on hand” for children who might benefit from this gift.
  • Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE)received fifteen Kiwanis Cozy Comforts back packs on December 21, 2021.
  • On March 17, 2022 twelve “Cozy Comforts” backpacks were presented to representatives of DePaul Community Resources. 
  • On December 20, 2022 thirteen“Cozy Comforts” backpacks were presented to representatives of DePaul Community Resources. 
  • On December 21, 2022 fifteen“Cozy Comforts” backpacks were presented to representatives of Piedmont CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates).  
  • On December 22, 2022  the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) received seventeen uniquely packed “”Cozy Comfort Kits.” SHE staff will present them to children who are victims of domestic violence and who are currently being cared for by this agency.

4. Kiwanis/Walmart Partnership

In November, 2018 the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation became the new donation distribution arm for Walmart Store #1780 in Charlottesville.  Non-perishable items like clothing, small electronics, toys, school supplies, sports equipment, household items of all types, lawn and garden items, and more are made available to Kiwanis on a weekly basis for distribution to community agencies in need of gifts-in-kind.  The Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville has reached out to more than a dozen such community agencies since this partnership has been in effect and now has made available more than $400,000 worth of gifts-in-kind. 

Agencies benefitted include: The Salvation Army, The Haven, the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia, Boy Scouts of America, Ready Kids, International Rescue Committee (IRC), Shelter for Help in Emergency, SARA, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Ronald McDonald House Charities, People Places, Love in the Name of Christ, Ben Hair Just Swim for Life Foundation, FBC Soup Kitchen, Region Ten CSB, Come as You Are Cville, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Community Bikes, Abundant Life.

Kiwanis Family projects, such as Cozy Comforts, Key Club, CKI at UVA, Dogwood Pancake Breakfast, Kiwanis Independence Day 5K Race, Kiwanis Christmas Trees, etc., also benefit from this collaboration

 5.  The Eliminate Project : 

Kiwanis International has joined forces with UNICEF to change the world for millions of mothers and babies by ridding the world of Maternal/Neonatal Tetanus (MNT).  As of August 2018, Kiwanis has raised $110 million and has eliminated MNT in 45 out of 59 priority countries.  See

6. Foundation Grants Program

Foundation grant applications are available. Use the “Contact Us” tab.

Most recent grants:

–In December, 2020, school supplies such as pencils and notebooks (and many others items that were on the list of needs for the Buford Middle School students ) were delivered by Kiwanis together with a check for $250. These items were donated to Kiwanis through the Walmart Good 360 Gift-in-Kind Project and were valued at more than $1,500. The school supplies and the initial cash donation from the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation filled an important gap for a planned first round distribution of school supply kits to Buford’s 575 students that took place in December 2020. A second cash donation in the amount of $1,806.08 allowed for a second distribution made to students on January 22, 2021. Hats off to the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation for this splendid effort and for its pledge of continued support for the children and youth of our community.  See photos on our Current Events & News Page.

–In December, 2019, the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation Board of Directors was pleased to approve a $500 grant request submitted by Terry Tomlin, School Nurse, at Monticello High School

Nurse Tomlin’s request will assist her in providing needy students with items such as underclothes for student accidents, hygiene products (toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.), and occasional snack food.  We are aware that such items are not within the school district budgets and that Nurse Tomlin , as many other nurses and teachers, provides them from personal funds.

In addition to approving the grant, the Board encourages Nurse Tomlin to meet with other school nurses to define the need and work with members of Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville to explore a more permanent solution for these student needs. 

–In December, 2016, the Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation was happy to share in holiday joy with all 93 children who are clients of ReadyKids thanks to a foundation grant to provide holiday gifts.  Santa arrived and distributed the gifts to children and their parents in attendance while KCOC Foundation Vice Chairperson, Karen Dowell, joined them at their annual December holiday party.  Kiwanis members, Eric Lamb and Karen Dowell, shopped for gifts, and members. Joyce Lesich and Bettie Dunnavant joined them to wrap the gifts prior to the event.  “It is a great honor to be able to partner with Ready Kids and to see the smiles on the faces of the children.  This is just one of the ways we can show the Charlottesville community that #KidsNeedKiwanis and that what we do impacts one child and one community at a time, and every day offers new opportunities,” said Karen Dowell

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today. Checks should be made payable to Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation, and mailed to P.O. Box 6698, Charlottesville VA  22906-6698. 

Address inquiries to Edward Schmitz, Chairman, Kiwanis Club of Charlottesville Foundation, at the same mailing address or [email protected]