City readies for Rotary leader

By Tom Joyce -

Local Rotarians are excited about plans by the top official of their organization to visit Mount Airy Monday, and hope the community is equally enthused about a food drive accompanying that occasion.

John Germ, the president of Rotary International, is scheduled to arrive at Hampton Inn on Rockford Street around 11 a.m. Monday. Germ will be there in conjunction with collections of food and monetary donations to take place in the hotel parking lot from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The appearance by Germ will mark the first time that a Rotary International president has ever visited Mount Airy. In honor of that milestone, he is expected to be greeted by local Rotary and other officials and be presented with a key to the city.

But the reason behind his visit also is deemed to be of high importance by leaders of the Mount Airy and Surry Sunrise Rotary clubs: the need to supply local partner agencies of Second Harvest Food Bank.

This is part of a regional effort called Rotarians Unite to Stop Hunger (RUSH), a new three-year initiative for Rotary District 7690, which includes Surry County. That effort has a goal of 100,000 hours of community service by club members, the collection of 1 million canned food items and providing 3 million meals.

The local food drive is a joint project involving the Mount Airy and Surry Sunrise Rotary clubs along with the King, Yadkin Valley and Yadkinville Rotary clubs. All contributions will be distributed directly to food pantries in Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties.

Jeff Boyles, this year’s president of the Surry Sunrise Rotary Club, is hoping for a good response for Monday’s campaign to show Germ that this community is serious about fighting hunger. Out of many Rotary Club locations in the district, Germ selected Mount Airy to visit.

The public is urged to bring food or monetary contributions Monday to the Hampton Inn parking lot, where club members will be available to assist with unloading.

This effort mirrors Germ’s priorities for his 2016-2017 term as international president, which include emphasizing service as Rotary’s most-powerful draw for a new generation of civic-minded members.

He heads a worldwide organization with 1.2 million members among 34,000 clubs in about 200 countries.

Germ also will make stops in Winston-Salem and Greensboro Monday as part of the RUSH initiative, which will kick off at a Greensboro Grasshoppers game Sunday.

The local drive on Monday will be among numerous RUSH service projects of the 49 Rotary clubs in District 7690, which have a collective goal of raising 150,000 meals, 30,000-plus canned goods, filling 1,000 backpacks and performing 500 hours of community service.

District 7690’s clubs span the Piedmont Triad and Sandhills, stretching from Southern Pines in the south to Mount Airy in the north, Elkin to the west and Graham to the east. Those clubs have about 2,600 members.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

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