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The community spirit of the Rotary Club spins year-round despite pandemic challenges

Modified events mean fewer donations for a cause that doesn’t go away
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Source: Facebook

It takes more than a pandemic to diminish the efforts of the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie.  The roster of events and activities may have been modified in 2020, however, the spirit of “Service Above Self” continues as their 100-year-old mandate.

“Normally we have 10 physical events throughout the year but, this year, due to COVID, they were either virtual or cancelled,” says Nilah Moss, Events Coordinator, Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie. “Our causes don’t go away so we have had to approach fundraising in different ways that respected the social distancing protocol and the safety of our community.”

Easter Seals Ontario and THRIVE Child Development Centre are two key partners that benefit from Rotary Club’s mandate to help children with disabilities. Area youth are also supported through the Rotary Youth Exchange program, Rotary Science Fair Algoma, Rotary Sports Awards Dinner, scholarships and local projects including the Rotary Adventure Playground.

Easter Seals Ontario’s programs and services raise money in support of children and youth with physical disabilities. The annual Telethon features the stories of local families and the positive difference that donations have made in their lives. Donations can be applied towards summer camps or with devices such as wheelchairs, mobility equipment, communication devices, house ramps and bathing equipment. 

The 2020 annual Easter Seals Telethon was the first of the club’s events to be cancelled.

“People made their donations online and some of the people who would normally be our panellists on the televised program still reached out to their contacts to obtain donations,” says Moss. This generated significantly fewer donations, however, they were grateful for the support of the community. 

Rotary Science Fair Algoma was cancelled and the Rotary Sports Awards went virtual. 

“Even our meetings were on hiatus then became virtual through Zoom and are now finally held in-person in a socially-distanced setting at the Marconi Club,” she says. 

ROTARYFEST, the area’s premier summer festival, was re-invented as an on-line entertainment program hosted by SooToday. The Take Your Pick draw, which usually goes hand-in-hand with ROTARYFEST, had to be re-invented and it has proven to be a silver lining.

“Back in May and June, when we were still working on ROTARYFEST plans, we thought there may be the possibility that the event could be cancelled so we moved the Take Your Pick draw to later in the year,” says Moss. “We have been able to feature a winter theme to the prizes which are different than what people have seen in past years.”

The Take Your Pick draw, which takes place on November 21, features three prizes: a 2020 Silverado LT plus a 2020 XMR Defender Side by Side with a plow and trailer valued at $100,708.41 or a 2020 Ford F150 with two 2020 Ski-Doo Snowmobiles and a trailer valued at $100,768.85 or a third prize of $75,000 cash.

Also happening now, is the lead-up to the Rotary At Work 50/50 monthly raffle which will benefit the THRIVE Child Development Centre. The draw takes place on December 15. Tickets are 3/$5 or 10/$10 or 60/$20. 

“We rely on community support and we appreciate the many ways that people have come together for us,” says Moss. “It has been a harder year, than usual, for many non-profits and our need is still there.” 

The Take Your Pick draw tickets can be found throughout the community and a map identifying locations can be found at or by calling 705-945-1279.

Moss says cancelling the annual Rotary Santa Claus Parade, typically held in late November, was out of concern for the health and safety of the community and in accordance with APH guidelines.

“We do have a message from Santa, that is available through Youtube, and people can also watch last year’s parade on our website,” says Moss.

Information on the various charitable and community activities of the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie can be found at  Santa’s greeting can be viewed here

This SooToday Spotlight was made possible through the support of Arthur Funeral Home – Barton & Kiteley Memorial Chapel.

“The Barton & Kiteley Chapel has been supporting Rotary for so many years and we have witnessed the great things they do in our community,” says Joni Cooke, General Manager, Arthur Funeral Home – Barton & Kiteley Memorial Chapel. “They bring joy to all- from festivals and parades to telethons and all while helping those with disabilities to live a better life and bring a smile to their face- how can you not want to help?”