ELLSWORTH — Flexibility and resilience are the must-have skills of 2020, and the Rotary Club of Ellsworth employed both to rethink the club’s annual Gifting Experience program.
The program, a favorite among Rotary members, is in its 15th year. In the past, Rotary members have taken children shopping downtown to buy gifts for their families with donated funds. School administrators suggest the names of third- and fourth-graders who would benefit from the experience. Many of the children have never before purchased gifts or shopped downtown.
“It’s the gift of how good it feels to give to someone else,” explained club member Carl Lusby.
Additional benefits include an introduction to budgeting (each child gets about $60 to spend) and supporting local businesses. Rotarians typically raise about $1,200 for the project.
This year being no normal year, the group shopping event was canceled, but the club decided to see how much money it could raise to support efforts in a similar vein. It ended up raising more than ever before, over $3,000, in donations from club members, businesses and individuals.
“Then we have the nice problem of what to do with it,” said Rotarian Jack Frost.
The club donated $1,100 each to Special Children’s Friends and Downeast Community Partners’ Christmas Magic program. Another $200 went to the Families First Community Center. Finally, the club bought about 40 gift cards to local businesses, totaling about $720. Those were donated Dec. 17 to the Ellsworth Police Department. Officers may distribute the cards to “to families that may need a little something this year or at any time,” explained club President Laura Pellerano.