This year we have distributed 1765 Rotary Shoeboxes to local schools, churches, scouts groups and private individuals so that local children can donate toys they no longer play with for the enjoyment of poverty-stricken children in eastern Europe.
As well as toys, household items are often donated, too. Sent with thousands of others to arrive in time for Christmas, a shoebox that contains toys, toiletries, educational items and household goods is a drop of happiness to these disadvantaged people, adults as well as children. For many, it will be the first present they have ever received. It lets them know that somebody, somewhere cares.
We collect the shoeboxes after half term and if, as has happened in the last two years, we more than cover the cost of supplying the boxes, we shall again redistribute the surplus cash to the participating schools. Last year they received £880 worth of W H Smith vouchers.
If you would like to know more about this national Rotary scheme please visit www.rotaryshoebox.org
Rotary in Harpenden’s donation of £40 to each of six newly- formed local units of Rainbows, Brownies and Guides towards the cost of their unit flags was gratefully received. But we could not have expected to learn just how important the flag would be to one young Rainbow member.
This Thank You card came from 19-year-old Megan Jones, leader of the new 9th Harpenden Rainbows. In it she writes:
‘I just wanted to say a massive ‘thank you’ for helping us buy our new flag. The little girl who carried the flag in the St George’s Day parade is named Caroline and she has autism. At first she barely said a word to anyone in the unit but since September she has flourished into a smiley, confident girl.
‘When I asked her if she would carry our flag in the parade her face took on the widest smile. She said no one had asked her to do anything like that before. Seeing her so proud and able to handle the large crowds with pure confidence and happiness made me feel such pride and well up with tears.
‘So thank you, Rotary, for enabling me to make a little girl very happy.’
Rotary in Harpenden hosted this year’s Young Citizen Awards, an annual event to honour young people in Harpenden who have made an outstanding contribution to the community.
Over dinner, with their parents, we heard from the nominees’ sponsors about their award-winning activities which Rotary in Harpenden acknowledged with a certificate and a prize.
The winners, pictured above receiving their Awards from Rotary in Harpenden President Nick Tott, were Anna Stevens from Sir John Lawes School and Tom Pentland from St George’s. The nominee from Scouting, Ben Mason, was unfortunately unable to attend.
In tandem with the Young Citizen Awards is the presentation of the Bill Hewetson Memorial Prize for an outstanding contribution to the community. As a Rotarian, the late Bill Hewetson, spent much time supporting young people in the local community.
This year’s winner was Louise Jones of Roundwood Park School, seen here receiving her award from Jane Frances, Bill’s daughter.