For more than a decade, 81-year-old Renee Klein, a longtime Oceanside resident, has organized an annual charity fundraiser in honor of her late husband Bernard, benefitting more than 40 different charities throughout the years, and raising thousands.
At the outset, Klein said she had managed to drum up support from roughly 75 people, but in the intervening time the turnout has grown, with more than 200 people supporting her cause for 2017’s fundraiser. “I think my mouth got bigger,” she joked of her efforts.
This year’s fundraiser proved even more successful, with her work paying off on Sept. 23 at the Oceanside Jewish Center benefitting Camp ANCHOR and Shriners Hospitals for Children, two organizations whose mission Klein said resonated with her. “Once you see children with disabilities, it doesn’t go away,” she said.
Although her three children, seven grandchildren and a few of her five great-grandchildren pitch in on the day of the fundraiser, Klein largely serves as the event’s sole organizer, walking door to door to various local businesses – she doesn’t drive – requesting donations for raffle prize baskets. This year, she assembled 108 baskets.
“It’s not what I do for charity, it’s what charity does for me,” Klein said of her dedication. “It makes a better person out of me.”
Klein said she volunteers at various other charities such as the Oceanside Interfaith Council, but the Bernard Klein Charity Fund, she said, will be her focus for years to come.
“I will be doing this as long as I’m breathing, year after year,” she said. “And I’m growing so I must be doing something right.”