Presque Isle -  With an eye toward inspiring others to serve, by sharing the volunteerism of those who are making a difference, the Presque Isle Rotary Club is calling for the stories of Community Service Heroes.
 
Rotarians, this week, officially launched a social media campaign asking Aroostook County residents who know of someone – youth or adult – that is making a positive impact to post their stories on Facebook and tag the PI Rotary Club.  The call for Community Service Heroes is part of the Club’s recently announced Great Big Give Back initiative, which is a COVID-19 replacement project for Rotary’s annual auction. 
 
Club members are asking that hero stories be posted by the end of the day on September 24.  Facebook posts should include the individual’s name, description of community service, and a brief reflection on what makes them a real Community Service Hero.  The club will be showcasing three of the featured Community Service Heroes in a special Star-Herald newspaper insert for the Great Big Give Back in October.
“The Great Big Give Back is truly about giving back to our community in as many ways as we can. We realized early on in the planning process that there are really three big ways we could ask people to join us in giving back: by giving money, support, and time,” said Rachel Rice, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Chantal Pelletier, are co-chairing this year’s unique auction replacement event. “In terms of giving time, we’re asking people to pledge their time and share with us how they’ll be giving back through community service. We are so excited to feature three Community Service Heroes as part of this effort, and urge community members to nominate and help us recognize our community’s most dedicated volunteers.”
 
The call for Community Service Heroes is the first of three parts to the Great Big Give Back intended to encourage community involvement and focus attention on the critical need for volunteers to make a difference County-wide, as the region continues to grapple with the ripple effects of the pandemic.
 
The second effort—focused around giving money--gets underway on September 25, when tickets go on sale for the five Great Big gift baskets, each filled with at least $1,000 worth of merchandise purchased from area businesses and organizations. The third effort—focused on giving support—happens at the same time, with the Club asking people to pledge to shop local. When purchasing tickets, community members will have the option of pledging community service hours and sharing what they’ll be doing to make a difference, as well as pledging to shop local and naming a place where they’ll be shopping local.
 
“Community is a group of people we lean on when times are tough.  These are our family, friends, and neighbors.  Throughout this trying year, we know that there are many community members giving countless hours of community service in a variety of ways.  Our hope through this targeted effort is to recognize these selfless individuals for making a difference, while encouraging others to get involved and ‘give back’ to our community.  We're calculating all the pledges and have set a goal to get 1,000 hours of community service pledged. We really appreciate everyone who can help us to reach this goal,” said Pelletier.
 
At the point of sale for Great Big Give Back ticket purchase, community members buying on-line through the Rotary Club website will have the opportunity to complete a service commitment pledge form.  For individuals who prefer to purchase their tickets in person at Graves Shop ‘n Save and Bike, Board and Ski in Presque Isle, or from a Presque Isle Rotarian, the service commitment pledge can be written on a paper ticket.
 
It is the impact of the global pandemic on our local community that prompted the Presque Isle Rotary Club to do something very different with what would’ve otherwise been its 73rd annual auction.  Rotarians are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of engagement by giving back to our community, as well as shopping local at this time.
 
Instead of the traditional solicitation of local businesses for donations that are auctioned to the highest bidder, the Presque Isle Rotary Club is buying $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. Prizes that are part of the five gift baskets will be posted on the club’s website: https://www.presqueislerotary.org
 
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.