Each year, as the holidays approach, members of Lakes Region clubs and other organizations plan dinners, concerts, food basket deliveries and children’s toy and coat drives to name but a few ways to help others. It is a large part of belonging to a Rotary or Lion’s Club, or another service-oriented group. Non-members help as well with donations of food, money, goods and services to make the holidays brighter for those less fortunate.
This year, due to the pandemic, we might assume these programs would not take place. That assumption would be incorrect, because with some creative maneuvering and readjusting, many outreach efforts are underway.
The need for meals is great, and the Lakes Region Rotary is stepping up to help. According to Lakes Region Rotary member Gary Adams, the organization will be working with the Salvation Army in Laconia during its important Kettle Drive. Also, the Lakes Region Rotary supports the Salvation Army’s Friendly Kitchen on a bi-monthly basis.
Says Adams, “Pre-COVID, we helped prepare meals but now, during the pandemic, the free lunches are not taking place on-site. Instead, we are partnering with different restaurants to supply meals.”
Some of the restaurants, including Domino’s Pizza, Sal’s Pizza in Laconia and South End Pizza, provide the pizzas. The pizzas are paid for by the Rotary (and are often generously discounted by the restaurants) and picked up by club members and transported to the Salvation Army in Laconia, where volunteers box up pizza meals for 50 to 65 people per lunch. The lunches are served on a to-go basis. The next Friendly Kitchen lunch with support from the Lakes Region Rotary is November 10, followed by a meal on January 2, 2021.
“The need is there; pre-COVID we served about 35 meals at a Friendly Kitchen lunch and now we provide meals for up to 65 people per lunch,” observes Adams.
The Lakes Region Rotary also presents a popular car show each year, and although it had to be a virtual event due to COVID this year, it generated funds. “It is a big fundraiser for us,” says Lakes Region Rotary Club president Mike Robichaud. “We donate to the Santa Fund, a program that provides winter coats, boots, hats and mittens for area children.” Robichaud speaks highly of the Santa Fund, and the good works they do for the area.
For many years the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction has been a beloved part of the holidays. Indeed, this will be the 39th year for the auction fundraiser that helps many in the community by raising an ever-increasing amount of money.
Says Jamie Sousa, chair of the auction event, “Last year was a record year for the auction and we raised over $600,000. This year, the event will be broadcast live from December 8-11 between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm from the Bank of NH Pavilion in Gilford. Media broadcasting the auction will be Channel 25 Lakes Region Public Access; Channel 12 Atlantic Broadband; 104.9 FM The Hawk and 101.5 Lakes FM.
“Due to the pandemic, the set will be closed this year and a limited number of volunteers will be on site, but the chance to bid on your favorites items will be as much fun as always.”
Sousa says many people get their Christmas shopping done by bidding on items during the auction, which range from handmade goods to dining gift cards to larger items such as sporting goods equipment, and even vacations in locations around the world, to name but a few categories.
“We really need donations right now,” Sousa stresses. “We will have an Item Drive on November 27 and 28 from 10 am to 2 pm at Bank of NH Pavilion. During those two days, people can drop off donations.” There also are drop-off locations at many local businesses around the area.
Sousa anticipates an even greater need this year, due to the pandemic. The funds from the auction are disbursed to a number of worthy organizations (applications for funds are online at www.childrensauction.com.) The auction benefits Lakes Region children and families and there is a focus on non-profits that supply basic needs to needy people. You can learn more at the website.
The Wolfeboro Lion’s Club is an active group dedicated to helping the community. At this time of year, a popular Poinsettia Sale is taking place. According to Lion’s Club information, the club is using the same NH supplier as in the past and they are happy to announce they are able to keep the pricing the same as last year. Poinsettias are available in red, white, or pink and in three sizes: six-inch, eight-inch and 10-inch.
This year, because of COVID, there will be no pick-up; all orders will be delivered by the Wolfeboro Lion’s Club to your home or business. Orders received by November 20 will be delivered on Tuesday, November 24 between 9 am and noon. Orders received by December 1 will be delivered on Saturday, December 5 between 9 am and noon.
By supporting the sale, you are giving back to the community. All profits (100%) are disseminated to various Lions projects, some of which are Operation Kids Sight (OKS) that screens school children for potential eye problems; eye exams/glasses and hearing tests/aids for those in need; sponsorship of local Boy Scout troop 165; a college book scholarship; the Doug Cady music scholarship; a NH Boat Museum boat building scholarship; Food Pantry donations and other worthy local causes. To get your order form for poinsettias, e-mail Lion Club member Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-630-3724.
The Wolfeboro Rotary Club is celebrating its 93rd year and while things are different everywhere due to the pandemic, the club will be holding their annual Rotary Christmas Tree Sale as usual at the Clark House Museum grounds on South Main Street in Wolfeboro.
“The sale will start on Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving,” says Wolfeboro Rotary president Brian Laing. “The sale will run until the trees are all sold, usually by mid-December. We will have 350 trees for sale, and they are native New Hampshire Balsams and Frasers. We will be open Thursdays through Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm.”
Laing adds that the tree sale is the major fundraiser for the club, and each year the money from the sale of trees goes back to local student scholarships and local non-profit charitable organizations. During the sale, all state regulations for safety during the pandemic will be adhered to. The Wolfeboro Rotary has been presenting the popular Christmas Tree Sale for over 50 years and it is a big part of the holiday season in the area. For information on the Wolfeboro Rotary Club and the Christmas Tree Sale, call Brian Laing at 603-273-2836.
In Meredith, many residents look forward to the Meredith Rotary’s senior holiday dinner. With the coming of COVID, many people wondered if the dinner they look forward to at the holidays would be cancelled. Although the meal cannot be held as usual (it has been held for over 20 years), it will happen in a drive-through format.
Normally, the dinner is held at Inter-Lakes Elementary School with catering by Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant. The menu includes a traditional turkey dinner and dessert with Rotarians serving. The dinner typically sees around 300 seniors in attendance, enjoying the meal and a raffle and a time to socialize.
The drive-through meal plans are still be coordinated as of press time, but the meal will assuredly take place, this year on December 6. The meal will be available to Meredith, Center Harbor, Moultonborough and Sandwich residents age 55 and over. The Meredith Rotarians will hand out meals and direct traffic. Those who wish to pick up/order a meal must sign up in advance. For details and to sign up, call 603-279-7600 between November 4 through November 25.
Many families in the Winnisquam area have a brighter holiday due to the efforts of the Tilton/Northfield Rotary. Members of the Rotary work hard during the Christmas season to gather and put together holiday food baskets and toys for children. The club also does Fruit Baskets for area senior citizens, and they are very popular and appreciated. “The Saturday before Christmas we put together the boxes for a Christmas meal for those in need in the Winnisquam area,” says Rotary past president Chuck Drew. The club coordinates their effort with the local welfare department and Tilton, Northfield, Sanbornton Christmas Fund. For information, visit www.tnrotary.org.
The Gilford Rotary Club is known for their annual Christmas tree sale and a wonderful Senior Dinner during the holidays. The Christmas tree sale will be held this year from November 27 to December 6; the hours will be 9 am-7 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and noon-7 pm on Monday through Thursday. COVID protocols will be in place and as one Rotarian said, “We will have beautiful trees and wreaths for sale.”
The Annual Ray Wixson Senior Dinner is usually held for area Senior citizens at the Gilford Community Church in Gilford village. The popular dinner is hosted and presented by the Gilford Rotary Club, with a holiday dinner, music and a visit from Santa. Due to the pandemic, this year the dinner will be drive-through only. For further information on the Christmas tree sale location and the Senior Dinner, please call 293-7958.