Community benefits from Rotarys ‘Big Give event


 Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield

Sergeant Jim Costlow representing the Reynoldsburg police department accepts the gift of a defibrillator from the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary Club as part of the organization’s "Big Give" event on Sept. 5. Many individuals and groups benefited from the Rotarian’s generosity including the Pickerington police who also received a defibrillator.

Over the past few years, the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary Club raised more than $10,000, but the service organization needed to find recipients for their charity.

"Our charter states that 100 percent of donations are given away," Rotarian Steve Roosa said. "We cannot use these funds for the operation of the club. That is taken care of by membership."

The answer of how to spend the money came to rotary member Shannon Mills after watching Oprah Winfrey’s "Big Give" on television. "Big Give" is a reality show in which "contestants criss-cross the country, scrambling to impact the fates and fortunes of unsuspecting people," according to the ABC Web site.

Mills decided it would be "kinda cool" for the 35 members of the Rotary club to break into five groups with $1,500 to spend on a Reynoldsburg or Pickerington charity of their choice.

"It forced our members to talk to (area residents and businesses) to find people or organizations in need of things," Mills said.

The club did not advertise their intentions for fear that the response would overwhelm their budgets to give.

The Rotary club organizes three fundraisers a year; in March the organization sells roses, in July members sponsor a golf outing, and at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Jefferson Country Club the group will hold an auction, Roosa said.

On Aug. 5, the club met for a cookout for its members at the VFW hall on Waggoner Road to present the "Big Give" recipients with their gifts.

Team one split its funds between the PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington and the Reynoldsburg parks and recreation department.

Team two installed a chair lift in the staircase of a Reynoldsburg woman who had her leg amputated as a result of cancer. Reynoldsburg city council member Ron Stake donated the lift.

Team three helped send more than 360 orchestra students in grades 5-12 to the Ohio State University for an annual music celebration at Mershon Auditorium.

"This will be the first year the Reynoldsburg students would be able to attend the event due to our support," Mills said.

Team four purchased a frost-free, commercial-grade freezer for the Reynoldsburg Helping Hands Food Pantry at a cost of approximately $700. With the remaining funds they purchased a Nintendo Wii and a 32-inch LCD television for the Wesley Ridge retirement home.

"Wesley Ridge wants to use this gaming system for therapy and exercise purposes," Mills said.

Team five chose three recipients: $500 to the boy scouts, $800 to the Vineyard church’s free clinic and $200 to "Princess Dresses of Love" – an organization that makes princess dresses for terminally ill children.

"Above and beyond" the teams’ gifts, the rotary club will spend $5,000 to donate one defibrillator each to Pickerington and Reynoldsburg’s police departments, Mills said.

The Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Wesley Ridge Banquet Hall.

Mills joined the Rotary almost three years ago when she decided she was leading a good life but needed to do more to help others.

"It’s been wonderful for me," Mills said. "It is service-oriented – not for networking."

The club gives to numerous other projects throughout the year, including the Reynoldsburg Fitness Challenge, Polio Plus, and Project Patagonia, a charity that enables rural children in Argentina to attend school.

In December, the Rotary partners with Fairfield County Children’s Services to help poor parents buy Christmas presents for their teenagers.

For more information on the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary Club, visit the Web site

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