PI Rotary re-engineers 73rd Auction into Great Big Give Back to support community through challenging time
Presque Isle – The impact of the global pandemic on our local community, especially area businesses, has prompted the Presque Isle Rotary Club to do something very different with its 73rd annual auction.  The Great Big Give Back will provide Rotarians and community members the opportunity to support local businesses and organizations as well as four great community causes.
Instead of the traditional solicitation of local businesses for donations that are auctioned to the highest bidder, the Presque Isle Rotary Club will buy $5,000 in items from those businesses that donated to its largest fundraiser in both 2018 and 2019.  With the purchased items, Rotarians will create five Great Big gift baskets, valued at $1,000 each. Tickets for the gift baskets will be sold for $10 each, with proceeds from the raffle going to the Rotary Scholarship Fund, the United Way of Aroostook’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and the following 2021 events: the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival and the Northern Maine Fair.
“We knew this was not the year to do our traditional auction because of the many impacts COVID-19 has had on our community, but we wanted to do something to help and that’s how the idea for the Great Big Give Back was born,” said Rachel Rice, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Chantal Pelletier, are co-chairing this year’s unique auction replacement event. “As part of this very unique fundraiser during a very unique year, we’re asking people to join us in giving back to our community in three important ways: to give money through our raffle and monetary donations, to give support by shopping local, and to give time through community service pledges. This event is truly about giving back and we’re inviting everyone in our community to participate.”
Efforts are now underway by Presque Isle Rotarians to purchase and collect the items to create the super gift baskets.  The five prize packages will be posted on the club’s website: https://www.presqueislerotary.org for the start of ticket sales on September 25, 2020.  Tickets will be sold on-line through the Rotary Club website through the date of the big drawing on November 20, 2020.  For individuals who prefer to purchase their tickets in person, they will also be sold at Graves Shop ‘n Save and Bike, Board and Ski in Presque Isle, as well as by individual Presque Isle Rotarians.
In addition to inviting the community to purchase tickets to support the worthwhile local causes, and take a chance on winning one of the five impressive gift baskets filled with items purchased from fine County businesses, Rotarians are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of shopping local and engagement by giving back to our community, especially at this time.
“‘Service Above Self’ is the motto that Rotarians live by.  It defines who we are and what we believe in.  We want to make our community even stronger during these unprecedented times and provide different ways for people to support The Great Big Give Back.  In addition to fundraising efforts through basket ticket sales, we encourage our fellow community members to pledge community service hours and pledge to shop locally.  In all, this project provides three unique ways to ‘Give Back’ to the communities that we love and support,” said Pelletier.
The popular and long-running community tradition that is the annual Presque Isle Rotary Auction has seen significant changes in recent years that have included different formats, and media outlets.  Through all of the transition, the one constant and critical factor behind the auction’s success, over more than seven decades, has been the support of local businesses, community organizations and bidders.
“For 72 years businesses and organizations in our community have generously supported our annual auction allowing us to provide humanitarian service, build goodwill and improve quality of life. Now it is time for us to be the inspiration and give back to them during these unprecedented and challenging times.  We couldn’t be the club we are or have made the difference we have made without them, and we hope this year we can show our appreciation through this new approach,” said Sarah Ennis, president of the Presque Isle Rotary Club.  
For more information on the Presque Isle Rotary Club Great Big Give Back, contact project co-chairs Rachel Rice at rachel.rice@maine.edu or Chantal Pelletier at chantal.pelletier@mmgins.com.