Belfast Rotary Club marks another successful year of community service in Waldo County
BELFAST — The Belfast Area Rotary Club has concluded another year filled with philanthropic endeavors in Waldo County.
The group's final charitable event of the calendar year is the 100 Fund, which is an annual event designed to provide gifts to needy Waldo County children.
The 100 Fund is an annual charitable tradition that began 30 years before, and was so named based on the 100 children the group originally hoped to provide gifts to.
Despite the name, the members of the Belfast Area Rotary Club, also known as Rotarians, have long surpassed the original goal.
The original list of children for the 2016 season was 134, but three more names were added when a local family lost all their possessions in a house fire before the holidays, according to club secretary Jill Goodwin.
The annual event focuses specifically on providing clothes and toys for Waldo County children in need every Christmas.
The Rotary Club receives the names of children in need from Waldo County Action Partners, who are charged with reviewing referrals that come from a range of community members, including school nurses, social services agencies, and food cupboards.
Gifts are generally purchased by Rotarians, and their family and friends and are delivered the Saturday before Christmas, though since that day was Christmas Eve this year, the gifts were delivered Dec. 17. Before gifts can be handed out, they must be wrapped, which is quite a feat when the group ensures that each child receives at least 10 gifts each.
"Waldo County General Hospital provides some of their big classrooms [for wrapping]," Goodwin said.
A large space is something of a necessity when you have more than 1,300 gifts that need to be wrapped, a task taken on by members of the club, their friends and family.
Unlike many of the gifts arriving to area homes, those delivered by Rotarians did not come courtesy of a standard delivery truck. Instead, a volunteer dressed as Santa was driven around by members dressed as elves, according to Goodwin.
Members of the community are also pivotal in the process, including the local businesses where Rotarians try to find their gifts, and residents looking to help the cause.
"We have families in Northport over the last couple of years who have given [the Belfast Area Rotary Club] Christmas trees to sell, which is pure profit," Goodwin said.
While the 100 Fund for 2016 has drawn to a close, for Rotarians that simply means starting the buying process for next year's group. Members take advantage of seasonal sales, and will be purchasing winter gear for next year's group this month.
Also on the upcoming agenda is the distribution of the group's 2017 scholarship fund, which handed out roughly $70,000 in college scholarships to 12 students during their 2016 ceremony.
Students from Belfast Area High School, Mt. View High School, and Searsport are eligible for a scholarship, and are nominated for consideration by school staff.
Despite charitable plates that remain perpetually full, the Rotary Club of Belfast faces the challenge not merely head on, but with a smile on their faces.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org