Thank You Rotarians!

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January is going to be over before we know it!  But, last week, some people got together to celebrate a job well done this last December.  I’m talking of course about the Kitchener Conestoga Rotary Club (website here).

It’s no secret that the House of Friendship couldn’t do the work they do without the community.  The Christmas Hamper Program is no different, and depends on volunteers, donations and a lot of hard work.  The Rotary Club has been a big part of the program these last six years and with their annual Turkey Drive to support House of Friendship we are able ensure that thousands of people have a less stressful December.

Rotarians gathered at a luncheon last week to reveal the results of the Drive in the form of a cheque presentation to House of Friendship, and to thank and recognize the many businesses and individuals who stepped up to help make sure every Christmas Hamper request was met.

Surpassing last year’s record amount, the Rotarians raised $267,301.41(gross) for the 2011 Turkey Drive. When Club members realized that they were within $450 of hitting the $1 Million mark for the Turkey Drive over its first six years, in true Rotarian fashion they quickly passed the hat to get them over the top. They did so inspired by the stories of generosity behind the 2011 Turkey Drive.

People gave at work, at their grocery store, on-line, and even gave donations to volunteers handing our turkeys to Christmas Hamper recipients. “This year, we saw more people getting involved in more ways. What we’re actually seeing is the Turkey Drive becoming a community cause, something that is embraced across our community,” commented Jim Erb. “It really has become neighbours helping neighbours”.

Proceeds from the Turkey Drive helped feed approximately 11,000 people, of whom almost forty percent were children, thus realizing the original dream of children sharing a Christmas dinner with their families.

The Turkey Drive is the primary sponsor of House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper Program, which provides the gift of food to local families in need. Hampers include vouchers that can be redeemed for turkeys. Hampers were prepared and delivered in December by a legion of more than 600 volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life.

Thanks to Erb Transport, Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, First Mennonite Church, and another 115 volunteers, hamper recipients were able to pick up their turkeys at two convenient locations. Volunteers handed out 3,200 turkeys, 400 hams, and 300 Halal chickens during the week before Christmas. Turkey recipients were then able to get home thanks to a special gift from the Kitchener-Waterloo Car and Truck Association that funded bus tickets for those in need.

John Neufeld, our executive director told us that “we knew we would need more hampers and turkeys than ever before. But we also knew that the Rotarians were up for the challenge; driven by their passion for service they mobilized the entire community.  It’s wonderful to be a part of this and we’re just so grateful for all of the families we’re able to help.”

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