Charitable raffle to give away 2013 vehicle of choice or $15,000 cash

Tickets are limited, make great stocking stuffers

By BETH ALTENA

The average resident who is not a member may know a little about Rotary. It is a club of business professionals that meet weekly. Some folks might know more about the international service organization. In the upcoming months, members of the local Rockford Rotary club would like the public to know at least one thing—you have the chance to buy tickets to win either a 2013 Ford F-150 truck or 2013 Chevrolet Malibu car or just take the cash—a cool $15,000.

Rockford Rotary is in the midst of a very unusual charitable fundraiser with 100-percent of the proceeds going to the efforts of non-profit organizations that help those in need. Those who purchase tickets will also go into a monthly $200 drawing beginning in January 2013. Tickets drawn in the monthly give-away will also be returned to the pool, not eliminated from taking home the big prize.

“This is a first for Rockford Rotary,” said organizer and Rotarian Steve Steelandt. He said the actual name of the campaign is the Rockford Rotary Charitable Raffle 2013 because in the future the prize may be something other than a new car or truck. He envisions ATVs, jet skis, boats or other “big toys” as the main prize. Other Rotary groups across the nation are even more ambitious, with one group raffling a million dollar home each year.

The inclusion of the word Charitable in the title is on purpose as well. Rotary is great at what it does—supporting local and international charity projects—but terrible about advertising what it does. Rockford Rotary, in existence since 1948, has donated untold dollars to local charitable organizations, high school youth endeavors, sent ambulances to impoverished countries (with the help of Wolverine World Wide), supported Shop with a Cop, helped furnish a facility for the elderly in the Dominican Republic, supported the campaign to eliminate polio from the world and many, many other charitable good works.

Rotary International was started not far from here, in Chicago, and now has clubs in every country in the world. It was begun in 1905 with a group of four businessmen with the slogan “Service Above Self.” The idea is that every profession is honorable and professional people can do good works for others from their position in their profession.

As individual members and as part of their club, Rotarians undertake fundraisers for money to give to those doing good works. “People don’t know that Rotary is fun,” stated Steelandt. At each meeting—here in Rockford held at noon Tuesday in the Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe Street—a sergeant at arms is tasked with fining members. Fines can be for the ugliest tie, for Floyd wearing black socks with his sandals, for having the nicest car in the parking lot, and any number of real or imagined infractions. New members may not realize those Tuesday fines of a dollar all add up to a schoolroom of children in the Dominican Republic enjoying breakfast at the start of their day, a meal they otherwise would not have. Rotary donations also benefit the health and well being of our own residents in many ways and helped fund the purchase of fire department equipment over the years.

A huge and long-running campaign has been the elimination of polio, first here in the United States, and now in the remaining countries where polio continues to kill and maim. According to Steelandt, so recognizably necessary is the fight against polio, that in some countries actively at war, cease fires have been eagerly granted so that aid workers can administer the polio vaccine to children. After vaccinations are complete the soldiers go back to their battles but the children are spared the threat of the polio virus.

Those who have bought Rotary chicken dinner during Harvest Festival over the years have been funding any number of good works, and those who purchased a fruit and nut order during the holidays do the same.

Rockford Rotary is also the source of the wildly popular Sweetheart Splash held the Saturday before Valentine’s Day in February. All money raised from the jumpers who take the plunge into the Rogue River as an act of love or insanity goes to the North Kent Community Services through Rotary.

Steelandt said ticket sales, just begun, are already going well. He said in the coming week the public will be able to order the tickets online at rockfordmirotary.com, and can currently buy them from Rotarians. Neil Blakeslee of Blakeslee Ropp PLC is one, Floyd Havemeier at Herman’s Boy and Connie Taylor at the Rockford Community Federal Credit Union are also members who have tickets to sell.

Pricing is $30 per ticket or four for $100 and make ticket holders eligible for the monthly drawings for $200 cash. Winning tickets are returned to the pool, so someone could theoretically win money and a vehicle of choice or the $15,000.

Steelandt points out a business could purchase tickets either for employee holiday gifts or for business-to-business gifts of appreciation so common at year’s end. “These also make terrific stocking stuffers,” he noted. The grand prize drawing will take place September 14, 2013, so there are many months to anticipate winning a cash drawing before the final prize. Tickets are limited to just 2,500. Steelandt noted that if enough tickets aren’t sold, the raffle reverts to a 50/50 with a minimum prize of $5,000, but he doesn’t think there is much chance they won’t all sell.

Watch the Squire for the photos of each month’s $200 winner and trivia tidbits about what Rockford Rotary does. As always, guests are always welcome at the Tuesday meetings where, if nothing else, visitors will enjoy a delicious meal catered by Grill One Eleven. At best the first visit may be the start of a lifetime of good works shoulder to shoulder with like-minded friends.

 

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