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Thornbury’s Rotary Club looks to recoup its fundraising efforts virtually

With the majority of its fundraising efforts squashed by COVID-19, the Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club is hoping to recoup some funds with a virtual gala this weekend.

The Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club is taking a new approach to fundraising in light of COVID-19 - a virtual gala.

“We are putting in some really serious work here in hopes that we can have some serious fun and raise some serious cash,” says Gerry McGregor, member of the Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary Club and event organizer. “With virtually all of our normal fundraisers put on hold for a year, the stay-at-home gala amounts to the best chance that Thornbury-Clarksburg Rotary has to raise the funds, which will allow us to continue the work already underway in supporting local families struggling through COVID-19.”

McGregor says the idea of holding a virtual event came from another Rotary Club in the district and hopes the concept will help the club to recuperate some of its otherwise lost fundraising dollars.

“As Rotary, we are adapting just like everyone else to these times,” he says. “All of our other fundraising activities have basically been cancelled for the year. We will not be going ahead with the golf tournament, the run in October, or our community meal event. And, there likely won’t be any rentals of our tents and tables this summer as gatherings are no longer an option. All of our traditional fundraising tactics have dried up. But, we are not the only ones. Everyone is struggling when it comes to fundraising.”

The Rotary Club will be hosting Hope in the Valley - a stay-at-home gala on June 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The event promises 90-minutes of local entertainment, including Drew McIvor, pop/folk musician; TooNice, reggae/ska band; Shane Cloutier, singer/songwriter; The Justin Kelly Experiment, singer/songwriter; and local country singer, Emma Wright.

“We held a dress rehearsal last night and I was blown away at the talent. There are a lot of great people participating for all of the right reasons,” he adds. “It is going to be a lot of fun and very upbeat, which is what we are after.”

Hope in the Valley will be MC’d by Tyler Boyle, teacher, artist and entertainer and Amy Tepperman, a former children’s animator.

The virtual event will also see interviews held with local members of the community who have played a vital role in the Town of the Blue Mountains' (TBM) COVID-19 recovery process, including Julie LeBlanc from My Friend’s House, Carolyn Letourneau, executive director of Beaver Valley Outreach (BVO), Brian Leduc, owner of Thornbury Foodland, Alar Soever, TBM Mayor, and Jean Lewis Knight Oliver, the Thornbury resident behind the Village meals initiative.

Those interested in attending are asked to register on the website and provide a monetary donation between $25 to $1,000 in exchange for a “ticket” to the event.

Currently, the fundraising total sits at $22,230, just over half-way to the $40,000 goal.

Funds raised will be put to work in the community with a focus on aiding COVID-19 relief efforts.

“The intention is that this money is going to support families in the community. However, we don’t know exactly what that is going to look like, we don’t know what the needs are right now,” says McGregor. “We are working with BVO and the school to connect with families that may need assistance, and there is a whole committee within the club that is trying to figure out how to best manage the money and the resources that we’ve got.”

McGregor adds the funds will also be used to keep current Rotary programs running, which are often directed at youth initiatives.

On Saturday, the day of the event, ticket holders will receive a link that will guide them to the Zoom Webinar where the event MC’s will take participants through the virtual event.

A silent auction is also planned and currently has 52 community-donated items up to bid on, which includes a number of gift cards to local businesses.

The Rotary Club is also encouraging event attendees to dine together during the virtual event by ordering delivery or take-out from one of the local restaurants.

“We felt that the title, Hope in the Valley, represented the fact that we are feeling hopeful,” McGregor says. “This is an amazing community and we are coming together. There is hope in the valley.”

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Jennifer Golletz

About the Author: Jennifer Golletz

Jennifer Golletz covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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