Our Rotary takes seriously the commitment to “Service Above Self.” Following are ways that our club is involved and giving back to the community throughout the year.
Reading Day at Winter Street Elementary School
Every year in the beginning of March, our club has a “Reading Day” at Winter Street Elementary School, a big hit with the kids! This event started out as “Dr. Seuss Reading Day” in honor of Dr. Seuss’s March 2 birth date, and members of our club would read a selection of Dr. Seuss books to children in their classrooms. Brad Sell wears his Dr. Seuss tie to get into the spirit! Members of our club spend about an hour with the kids, who are eager to hear the stories and even join in on the story. Recently, the Reading Day has evolved to include books other than Dr. Seuss books, though they are still the favorite. Though it is only one day, this event helps spread the love of reading in a school where 90% of children are disadvantaged.
Mentoring at Winter Street Elementary School
Following the 2012 Reading Day at Winter Street, the school counselor requested Rotary volunteers to be mentors at the school, with a responsibility for each volunteer to meet with a student once per week for about 45 minutes just to talk, listen, and be a role model for children who really need one. Several of our members were eager to take this opportunity to bond with a child and began mentoring regularly at the school. Additional mentors are always needed. To inquire about becoming a mentor at Winter Street School, contact Cindy Hinkle, School Counselor, 301-766-8439 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rotary Dictionary Project
Each fall the Washington County Rotary Clubs distribute dictionaries to EVERY 3rd grader in Washington County including to both public and private schools. Our club organizes this major project, including ordering the dictionaries, coordinating with other area clubs to assign schools for distribution, and delivering the books directly to kids. In 2013 there were a total of 35 schools reached by Rotary clubs and almost 1,900 dictionaries distributed.
Delivery the dictionaries is the fun part! Two-to-three Rotarians go to each school on a day of their choosing and go into the classrooms of third graders to pass out the books. Rotarians talk about the dictionaries and about Rotary. The kids love it and so do Rotarians! Most children are truly eager to get their very own dictionary and can’t wait to use it. If you volunteer to do this – and you should – be prepared to get lots of wonderful “thank you” notes from students for your efforts.
Red Cross Blood Drives
One pint of blood can save up to 3 lives! Which means our club saves around 90 lives every time we hold a blood drive.
At least once each year our club hosts a blood drive at the Red Cross Hagerstown donation center, asking Rotarians from our club and other Hagerstown-area clubs to come out and help save lives. At least 30 people give blood each drive, and some members who can’t give blood help organize the event.
Some offer their time to say thank you for a life saved, others to make something positive out of a tragedy, and some simply because they can see what we do is so vital. All of our volunteers agree there is a very special spirit that binds everyone associated with the Hagerstown Roatary club.
So why not have a look at the different ways you can get involved and start your volunteer journey today!
Community Book Drive
In fall 2012 the Hagerstown Rotary Club initiated the first Community Book Drive in partnership with the United Way of Washington County and the Hagerstown Area Religious Council, enlisting Rotarians, Rotarian businesses, churches, area Rotary clubs, and other community organizations and individuals to collect children’s books for the specific purpose of use in literacy efforts. Over 4,500 books were collected in 2012. Over 12,000 books were collected in 2013 with involvement of a large majority of club members in a community-wide effort.
The Community Book Drive was birthed out of the Hagerstown Rotary Literacy Initiative, a Rotary-led initiative to inform and engage the entire community in response to alarmingly low literacy rates in Washington County. The primary focus of the Literacy Initiative is early childhood literacy.
Collecting books for children ages birth through elementary school, the book drive is held for a full month leading up to the United Way’s Day of Caring. On the Day of Caring, a Rotary team and other volunteers sort the books by age group, count the books, sticker books for younger children with reading tips for parents, and box all the books. After the drive, the Literacy Task Force determines the best use of the books, getting them to organizations and programs that would be most effective at addressing literacy for at-risk children. In 2013 books were distributed to over 20 organizations working with children and 15 elementary schools.
The majority of our club members participate in the book drive in some way, which is why this event is so successful!
United Way Day of Caring
Every year for many years our club has participated in the United Way of Washington County’s Day of Caring. This event mobilizes volunteers to work on a variety of service projects at local nonprofit organizations. Tasks may include painting, light construction, minor repairs, as well as a variety of agency activities. Day of Caring volunteers also tackle safety-related projects at elderly and disabled residents’ homes.
Past participation has included teams for agency projects or resident home projects. In 2012 and 2013 Rotary instead provided teams to help sort books for the Community Book Drive.
Hagerstown Rotary Club participated in United Way of Washington County’s 23rd annual Day of Caring. The Club organized the community book drive that went beyond Club members and engaged businesses and the public. Nearly 10,000 books were collected. These will be distributed to local organizations and schools. This effort supports Hagerstown Rotary Club’s ongoing effort to improve Washington County’s literacy rate.
Holiday Gifts for DSS Families
For the past two years our club has sponsored families for Christmas through the Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS case workers identify families they know are struggling and who cannot afford to do much of anything for Christmas; they get wish lists from each of the families and our club purchases gifts and make the holidays special for these families who are in need.
Our Rotary responds to the requests eagerly and many Rotarians step forward to help with the effort. In 2013 we sponsored 8 families with gifts; two of those families were very large and we even provided beds and bedding for one of the families. Some Rotarians sponsor families on their own as well.
In addition to financial support, Rotarians shop, wrap, and deliver the gifts to DSS in time for Christmas. Many hands go into making this project successful! Both the families and staff at DSS are extremely appreciative of the effort.