Rotarian Ken Wilmott and Rotaractors Kirk Langford and Karla Payes install cables during the seventh annual Day of Giving on 7 February in London, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Jim Swan
ore than 100 Rotaractors and Rotarians from London, Ontario, Canada, completed small household tasks for senior citizens, homebound residents, and people with disabilities in February as part of the seventh annual Day of Giving.
Started in 2003 by the Rotaract Club of University of Western Ontario, Day of Giving brings together Rotaractors and members of seven London-area Rotary clubs to lend a helping hand to needy residents.
"Day of Giving is especially great because not only do we help people in the community, but it gives Rotarians and Rotaractors a chance to get to know each other, work hard, and have fun," says Rotaractor Kirk Langford, a member of the Day of Giving committee. "Creating a bond with Rotarians is essential for the continuation of Rotary."
That bond plays a key role in World Rotaract Week, 9-15 March, which commemorates the chartering of the first Rotaract club 41 years ago. Throughout the week, Rotaractors and Rotarians carry out service projects together.
During the Day of Giving, Rotaractors posted fliers in senior centers and churches and contacted several health organizations, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, to promote the event. Community members could also call a hotline to request help with specific tasks. About 94 clients received assistance.
Volunteer teams, each with two Rotaractors and one Rotarian, cleaned stoves and refrigerators, shoveled snow, moved furniture, ran errands, and even stripped wallpaper.
The project provides a way for Rotaractors to make personal connections with Rotarians and community residents they wouldn't normally interact with, says Langford.
"An event like this opens my eyes to the size of the Rotary network," he adds. "I hope Day of Giving can show communities how deeply committed Rotary is to making a difference in society."
Each year, the event takes place at the end of January or early February because of the extra needs that homebound residents have during the cold winter, says Ken Bowlby, of the Rotary Club of London, who helped Rotaractors start the project while he served as assistant governor of District 6330 (Ontario, Canada; Michigan, USA).
"Day of Giving is a great example of what Rotary is all about: helping those who are incapable of helping themselves," says Bowlby. "To see how appreciative our clients get at the end of the day always gives me an incredible feeling of satisfaction."
Bowlby says he would like to see Rotary and Rotaract clubs around the world adopt the event.
"It would be great to have all of Rotary, on the same day, participate in Day of Giving. What a difference that one day would make worldwide," he says.
Here are a few other projects carried out by Rotaractors around the globe:
The Rotaract Club of Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, sponsored a benefit concert in April to provide clean water wells to Cambodia. More than 3,000 people attended the event, which raised $51,000. Proceeds will help pay for 51 wells in the Phnum Kravanh District, bringing clean drinking water to more than 4,000 people.
More than 100 Rotaractors and 50 Interactors in Bangkok, Thailand, initiated a reforestation project to help reduce carbon dioxide levels and raise awareness of the dangers of global warming. Club members planted 1,600 mangroves at a forest development center in Samut Songkhram Province.
To improve literacy in elementary schools, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, raised $150,000 for the installation of small, high-quality libraries in 130 second-grade classrooms. The club's ongoing Ready 2 Read project has already benefited more than 2,000 Birmingham children.