Rotary agrees to pitch in

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Rotary Club is involved in a variety of service projects, in an attempt to better not only the community but the country and world.

The Rotary Club recently signed a three-year commitment with ShelterBox.

ShelterBox is a charity that hand-delivers aid to families devastated by conflict or natural disaster, to give them safe shelter and the tools to rebuild communities. The sturdy green ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents specifically designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter until they can begin the process of rebuilding a home.

Fairmont Rotary Club president Brandon Edmundson shared how the club became involved with ShelterBox.

“They came here and set up one of their boxes about two or three years ago so we’ve had a relationship with them since,” he said. “We’ve purchased one of their boxes every year since then. This year, we got a mailing from them saying they were looking for people to make three-year commitments, so we decided to make the commitment and buy one box a year for three years.”

One ShelterBox costs about $1,000. When asked where Rotary gets the funds, Edmundson said it comes from dues or fundraisers. Rotary has a charitable budget of about $4,000 per year. People can submit requests for funds, with the group’s board of directors deciding where to give grants.

Edmundson said it is possible to get back information on where a box is sent and who received it, so the group can see the impact it has had.

ShelterBox was the first officially recognized Project Partner of Rotary International and remains Rotary’s only Project Partner in disaster relief.

Rotary is an international group. Throughout the world, there are about 1.2 million members and more than 35,000 clubs.

Rotary International’s big push is to end polio.

“Every time somebody comes to speak at one of our noon Rotary Club meetings, we buy 100 polio vaccines in their name so we’re part of that bigger effort to eradicate polio,” Edmundson said.

The Fairmont Rotary Club is in its 96th year, making it the second-oldest Rotary Club in Minnesota. The group undertakes several projects each year. It puts on a book sale at the mall each winter, and the STRIVE program is one of the club’s bigger projects.

STRIVE — Students Taking Renewed Interest in the Value of Education — is an annual project that pairs high school seniors experiencing academic challenges with adult mentors from the community. About 20 seniors typically participate in the program. At the end of the year, Rotary gives out several scholarships to students who plan to continue their education after they graduate.

The Fairmont Rotary Club has about 40 members who meet every Monday at noon at the Holiday Inn. Visitors are always welcome to come hear more about Rotary or listen to guest speakers.