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Windsor-Essex Rotary Clubs take part in annual Gleanathon


by Adam Gault

For the second year in a row, Rotary International Clubs from across the Windsor-Essex County region came together to support the Southwestern Ontario Gleaners in Leamington with a 24-hour “Gleanathon” on Friday, August 21.

Beginning at 4 pm, and working in two-hour shifts throughout the night and into the next day, each area Rotary Club took turns working the line at the charitable organization, preparing potatoes and peppers, that would otherwise be thrown away, into a dry soup mix to be distributed in Canada and around the world to those in need.

While social distancing guidelines limited the number of volunteers working the line from 30 at a time down to 15, Rotary Club members were hopeful they could still do their part to alleviate hunger, especially during a year that has proved challenging for so many.

Due to COVID-19, “[Rotary] can’t have the fundraisers we could normally have to raise money, so we have to pick and choose what we want to sponsor,” Rotary Club of Essex President, Bettie Kerr, said. “[Gleaners] is one we wanted to keep going, because it goes to a very good cause.”

Most of the produce processed at Gleaners is donated by local farms, along with supplemental produce, such as broccoli and rice, which is supported by monetary donations to the organization.

In 2019, Windsor-Essex Rotary Clubs donated $13,000 to Southwestern Ontario Gleaners, and processed 22,000 pounds of food during its 24-hour Gleanathon. This is the equivalent of 150,000 servings.

With the prospect of economic uncertainty and food insecurity on the horizon for many, Gleaners is incredibly thankful for all of the volunteers who have continued to put themselves on the frontline of serving others, especially when they may be putting their own health on the line to do so.

“Even the seniors, in spite of the risk, they keep coming,” Southwestern Ontario Gleaners Treasurer, Tina Quiring, said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can to keep going and to keep everyone safe.”

Gleaners has had no exceptions to facing the challenge of remaining in operation and soliciting funds during the pandemic, but the generosity and inspiring nature of clubs, like Rotary International, has made traversing the waters of an uncertain 2020 that much easier.

“To think that there are people like [Rotarians], there really should be more clubs like that,” Quiring said. “They are a phenomenal group; they bring young people and kids. That’s what it’s going to take, for young people to start at a very young age.”

To find out more, or to make a donation to Southwestern Ontario Gleaners, visit swogleaners.ca

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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