Presque Isle -  An overwhelmingly positive response and generous outpouring of support by area businesses and organizations to the Presque Isle Rotary Club’s 2020 Great Big Give Back has coordinators looking at expanding their efforts and extending the project timeline.
 
Rotarians moved forward earlier this fall with their plans to purchase $5,000 in items from businesses and organizations that donated to its largest fundraiser over the past couple of years to create five “Great Big” gift baskets, valued at $1,000 each.  Club members had planned to sell tickets on the baskets through mid-November for a drawing to benefit four worthy local causes.
 
But, in true Aroostook County fashion, the generosity of the local community donors has yielded items valued at over $17,000 – more than three times what Rotarians set out to buy –to support the club and four designated community causes. 
 
“We never could have anticipated this kind of response when we began work on the Great Big Give Back, but we are so incredibly grateful for the community’s generosity,” said Rachel Rice, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Chantal Pelletier, are co-chairing this year’s unique auction replacement event. “As a result, we are tweaking plans for the project to reflect this positive development and so excited for the Great Big Give Back event we’ll be hosting a little later than originally planned.”
Specifically, the Great Big Give Back Committee is looking at options, including the possibility of a mini on-line auction featuring big ticket items, to add to the gift basket fundraiser.  As soon as the plans are finalized, Presque Isle Rotarians will announce the newly enhanced project, as well as the revised timeline that will likely extend the project into the New Year.
 
“In addition to being extremely thankful for the overwhelming support of the local community, we are very fortunate to have several committed Rotarians who bring essential areas of expertise to the table as we work through various changes and decisions in the coming weeks.  There are some key club decisions to be made and we have a strong group working diligently to make the Great Big Give Back an even bigger success than we had originally anticipated.  We are excited about the opportunities that this unique situation will afford us and hope to update the community with necessary changes in the very near future,” said Pelletier.
 
Early last month, and in light of the global pandemic, Presque Isle Rotary Club leaders announced they would replace their traditional annual Rotary Auction for 2020 with an effort designed to provide Rotarians and community members the opportunity to support local businesses and organizations as well as four great community causes.  Identified to receive proceeds from the Great Big Give Back: the Rotary Scholarship Fund, the United Way of Aroostook’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and the following 2021 events: the Crown of Maine Balloon Fest and the Northern Maine Fair.
 
In addition to the Great Big gift basket fundraiser component, Rotarians set out to raise awareness about the importance of shopping local and engagement by giving back to our community through service, especially at this time. Those components will be carried forward and remain part of the project when the new timeline and additional details are announced.
 
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.