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Rotary gives big during holidays

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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When the Rotary Club of South Placer prepared for their annual Christmas basket drive, their first stop was Antelope Creek. “We asked for 30 families,” Rocklin Fire Chief and Rotary Club member Bill Mikesell said at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Mikesell said the club went through the schools, where the staff knows which families need some assistance. It was determined, “these folks do need help,” Mikesell said. Thirty families turning into 73 families total, which amounted to 172 kids receiving gifts and food. “This year by far, with the economy, families are more than ever having a difficult time making it,” Antelope Creek Elementary School Principal Matt Murphy said. For weeks, club members collected items and through a partnership with local businesses, schools and the fire department, the Rotary Club members delivered the goods in three days, Mikesell said. Many of the families were requesting the bare essentials such as food, warm coats, underwear and some toys. Large stockings were full of Dollar Tree toys and each child received between 30 and 40 individual toys. “They’re (the kids) absolutely delighted to be a part of this,” Mikesell said. The club found the community to be so giving this year that after deliveries, there was an abundance of toys and woman’s and children’s jackets left – until a call came in from dispatch. Someone from a local woman’s shelter contacted the fire department asking for help with donations for local families in need. Minutes later, Mikesell said they were filling their cars and delivering gifts to five additional homes. While the children and parents were in another room of their house, “we filled their front rooms with bags and bags of toys,” he said. Mikesell said he was impressed with the support from the community and beyond for this annual project – one person donated 580 new ball caps and beanies, an Oakland firefighter has donated approximately $1,000 every year for the past three years and club member Larry Stark said they received more than $700 alone from Rocklin Unified School District clerical employees this year. But in addition to the outpouring of community support, Stark and board members recognized Mikesell as well. “The reason for this program is Bill. It’s a tremendous program,” Stark said. For more information on the Rotary Club of South Placer, go to www.southplacerrotary.org. Contact Lauren Weber at laurenw@goldcountrymedia.com.