The Rappahannock Rotary Club has been helping members of our community and communities around the world since 1985. So, it came as no surprise when the COVID-19 pandemic hit they stepped up to assist people in need. Among their service projects this year they helped distribute unsold Girl Scout cookies, delivered meals to local families and donated ventilators to hospitals in Ecuador and Guatemala.
“The Girl Scouts were limited in how they have traditionally sold cookies as an annual fundraiser and were therefore left with a lot of unsold cookies. So, they came up with the idea of distributing the unsold cookies to first responders, hospitals, food banks and other non-profit organizations, but did not want to call on their Scouts and families to bear the delivery burden as that would expose them to the virus,” Rappahannock Rotary President Darryl Barnes says.
The club initially identified organizations who could benefit from the cookies and committed to delivering half of a tractor-trailer load. As the ball got rolling on this project, they helped more than they anticipated.
“Once we got our members in motion, it turned out that we were able to identify and deliver the entire truckload across our community. Our volunteers handled all the logistics and deliveries in a socially distanced fashion,” says Barnes.
Meal delivery to help local restaurants stay afloat
During the early portion of COVID-19, when restaurants were operating under more restrictions, the new Satellite Club had the idea to help keep our local restaurants in business.
“The goal was to help connect downtown restaurants with folks that did not wish to venture from their homes for meals. Ultimately, it benefitted the restaurants by selling additional meals, and allowed folks to have delicious meals without venturing outside their homes,” states Barnes.
In addition to this meal delivery program, they also delivered Thanksgiving meals to families in need that were identified by their club.
Ventilator donations to Ecuador and Guatemala
Along with other clubs and Rotary International, Rappahannock Rotary Club sent funds to Ecuador and Guatemala to purchase ventilators their hospitals desperately needed during this time.
“We have a very strong International Service Committee that is expert in navigating the ‘red tape’ inherent in these processes and combined our local talents with other clubs around America and the clubs with whom we have connections in Ecuador and Guatemala, based on the assistance we have provided to them in the past. In short, our club donated some of the funds that we have raised and combined that with funds from other clubs and Rotary International,” says Barnes.
Finding new ways to help during the pandemic
As the pandemic stretches into 2021, the club continues its normal work, even amid the COVID ‘disruption.’
“We are still building things, delivering dictionaries to every third-grade student in Spotsylvania county schools, as well as providing funding for teachers, schools and other non-profit organizations. We have to engage in these projects a little differently, due to the virus, but we continue to get them done. We have the ‘will,’ and we are finding the ‘way’ to continue to provide a positive impact on our community,” shares Barnes.
The club encourages people in the community to join them in service projects.
“You do not have to be a member of Rotary to support our work. We invite folks to attend our meetings and engage in our physical service projects. Once you see Rotarians at work, you typically feel the energy emanating from our members, and many folks decide to join our club. We have 35 years of success that we build upon, which has also made our club one of the largest in Virginia,” he says.