By Gary S. Hatrick
The Rotary Eastside 8 bagged 775 Christmas meals to be distributed to those in need Saturday attaining a 72 percent increase over 2009’s holiday joint community service project, which yielded 450 bags.
Eastside 8 is the name given to the East Pasco County Rotary Clubs comprised of the Rotary Club of Zephyrhills; Rotary Club of Zephyrhills, Daybreak;? Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel; Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel, Sunrise; Rotary Club of Dade City;? Rotary Club of Dade City, Sunrise;? Rotary Club of Land O’ Lakes;? and Rotary Club of San Antonio.
A matching grant of $3,700 from Rotary Club International helped to bring about the increase in dinners for the east side clubs.
The project was begun last year and conceived and spearheaded by past president of the noon Rotary Club in Zephyrhills, Mike Mira. This year, he and current president Mike Waters continued to provide leadership for the project.
The meals consisted of a canned ham, mashed potatoes, muffin mix, corn, green beans, gravy and a cake.
“Pretty much a complete holiday dinner,” Mira said.
“Our club did 200 of those bags,” Mira said. “We’re taking care of West Elementary, Chester Taylor Elementary and Stewart Middle School as well as making a contribution to the Samaritan Project.”
The Samaritan Project is a cooperative effort between churches, businesses and the city of Zephyrhills to meet needs of families and individuals in the community.
“Daybreak Rotary is doing 100 bags,” Mira continued. “Their club is taking care of Woodland Elementary and the High School.”
“We re going to the schools because we feel [having needs is] never the children’s fault. We want these families to have a nice Christmas dinner,” Mira explained.
Stewart Middle School contributed 600 extra cans of canned goods from a drive held at the school which were added to the bags.
Contributions also came from Zephyrhills community business partners Wade Thomas, who gave $1,000 to the noon club, and Tom Vanater, who provided $300 to the noon club to fund the bags being given to the Samaritan Project.
Mira said that the need was even greater this year.
“We’re supposed to be coming out of the recession and it seems like people are in worse shape this year,” he said.
The Eastside 8 clubs had a summer vacation food project last summer to help children when there is no longer a school lunch after they get out of school. They plan to do that project again in June.
Rotary is a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs, known as Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.