Not yet officially a year old – it was Chartered by Rotary International October 17, 2014 – the new Rotary Club of Longboat Key already has made its mark with worthwhile projects in its home community and in Sarasota as well

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Not yet officially a year old – it was Chartered by Rotary International October 17, 2014 – the new Rotary Club of Longboat Key already has made its mark with worthwhile projects in its home community and in Sarasota as well. With much to do through the summer and fewer members in town to do it, the Club is reaching out for potential new members or just folks willing to work on one or another event as a “Friend of Rotary.”

Together with All Faiths Food Bank, Rotary LBK established, furnished and maintained a free food pantry at Tuttle Elementary School, a Title I school in Sarasota. “Title I” signifies a school where a high percentage of children are eligible for subsidized meals on school days. But weekends, holidays and school closings are periods in which many Tuttle children are “food insecure,” meaning they are stressed about where their next meal is coming from. Studies have shown that such concerns often inhibit a child’s ability to concentrate on schoolwork.

The food pantry, staffed entirely by Rotary volunteers, provided eligible children and their families with bags of meat, fresh produce, dairy products and non-perishable foods every other Thursday last semester. In addition, on alternate Thursdays Rotarians labeled 360 bags of non-perishable food provided by AFFB, for distribution to 180 Tuttle pupils every Friday, to help them through the weekend. Rotary LBK intends to continue its TEN (Tuttle Elementary Nutrition) program throughout the coming school year as well.

This summer the Rotary Club and AFFB will run five more pantries on Tuesdays at Tuttle, for which assistance would be welcome. Because of the contact with children, volunteers must be background-checked and cleared to participate. For this special summer effort, therefore, only those who already have such clearances can help. If that’s you, contact Bob Simmons, [email protected], to be scheduled for one or more mutually convenient dates.

Although the official Campaign Against Summer Hunger ended May 9, Rotary LBK continues to place food donation boxes in local locations, and collect food and deliver it to AFFB. To help collect and deliver, obtain a box or donate food, contact Jane Hunter, [email protected].

Last summer Rotary LBK, a proponent of the Town’s planned off-leash park for dogs, introduced a Hot Diggety Dog! segment to the Freedom Fest Parade held on Bay Isles Road July 4th. This year it will repeat the fun with prizes for best costumes, and an opportunity to donate to a fund for dog park amenities. To pre-register for the Parade, help with the event, or inquire about the “Paw Park” fund, contact Carol Erker, [email protected].

Perhaps the most visible of the new Rotary Club’s projects was its creation of the first-ever Longboat Key Veterans Day Parade and Recognition Program. A monumental feat for the group, it proved so meaningful to so many that the Club intends it to be an annual event. To help make it even bigger and better this year, contact Jack Rozance, [email protected], or Gene Luca, [email protected]. Special talents sought include a marching band and connections to an A-list celebrity who might draw more onlookers to this singular event.

Speaking of special talents, Rotary LBK needs a website, social media presence, and print materials. Those with skills in the design or execution of any of these may contact Sydelle Pittas, [email protected]. Sydelle also is the one to contact if you have any questions about Rotary or its summer programs.

In sum, if you have an hour of time or an ounce of energy to donate, Rotary Club of Longboat Key can help you find an avenue of service suitable to your interests and skills. The Club – which is not affiliated with any religious or political group – meets most Wednesdays at Parish Hall of All Angels Church, 563 Bay Isles Road. Check-in and socializing from 5:00, meeting bell rings 5:15, adjournment 6:30. Snacks are served; BYOB; requested donation $8.00 pp. For an invitation contact Sydelle Pittas, [email protected].

Rotary LBK is one of more than 34,000 clubs in 165 countries around the world that make up Rotary International, a 110-years-old service organization with some 1.2 million members. Since 1986 RI has been a world leader in the eradication of polio. Now at less than 30 reported new cases in only three remaining polio endemic countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, we are this close to wiping out the incurable disease after a 30-year program to vaccinate every child, everywhere. Every cent donated to the Polio Plus effort is trebled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Donate online at or send your contribution to Rotary LBK Charitable Fund (a 501(c)(3) non-profit), P.O. Box 8351, Longboat Key 34228, and be a Gift to the World.

Sydelle Pittas, President, Rotary Club of Longboat Key

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