The Surry Sunrise Rotary club recently donated more than $16,000 to the Surry County and Mount Airy school systems for use in their respective backpack programs.
The club split the money equally — $8,100 to each school system — after raising the funds with the club’s Second Annual Flight for Kids Pigeon Race that was held in the fall.
That’s more than double what the club raised, and donated, to the schools during the first pigeon race. In that event, in 2016, the club collected more than $7,000 and, after adding funds to make it an even $8,000, the group was able to donate $4,000 to each school district.
When it came time to plan the 2017 race, the club members felt they could sell more tickets and increase their donation to the schools. Steven Norman, Surry Sunrise Rotary Service chair and pigeon racer, helped the club double the number of tickets sold which meant preparing 100 more birds to create a 200-bird pigeon race.
The pigeons raced from Charlotte Motor Speedway to their home lofts in Mount Airy. Each ticket holder was randomly assigned a bird and the winning birds earned their ticket holders cash prizes. Thanks to donations and sponsors of the event, more money was able to go to local schools to help fill shelves for their food backpack programs.
“The pigeon race event is such a unique, fun and beneficial event for our Rotary Club and community,” said club president Chip Pulliam noted. “This truly is a significant and meaningful project for our members.”
The backpack programs work to supply students in need with meals over weekends and holidays. One in every five people in North Carolina are hungry and one in five children don’t get the nutrition they need, according to the club.
”These bags provide students with the nutrition and meals they need to come to school ready to learn. Each Friday, students take home a bag filled with food items. Most of these items are individually wrapped so students can prepare them independently,” the club said.
Not only does Surry Sunrise Rotary give monetary donations to schools, but last year the organization established a backpacking event at Mount Airy Middle School thanks to a Rotary Foundation Grant. This event was a collaborative effort by the club, Food Lion, Mount Airy Middle School’s Interact Club, Surry Community College’s Rotaract Club, and the Mount Airy Rotary Club.
The groups spent a few hours together and were able to package enough food to supply 40 students in need with food for almost 14 weeks. The group has made plans to do this once again on Thursday, Feb. 15.
“We are grateful for the help of the Carole Farlow Foundation and Food Lion Feeds that will increase the amount of food Surry Sunrise Rotary funds will be able to purchase for the 2018 backpack event,” said Catrina Alexander, Club Rotary Foundation chair.
“Because of the additional food, the bags will be able to be distributed to all schools based on their needs. Partnerships like this are invaluable and we are proud to be a part of a organization that is working to reduce hunger issues throughout the world,” she said.