Posted by Jim Woolen on Nov 29, 2022
In 2022, the Rotary Club of Big Rapids provided complete Thanksgiving meals to 135 families in need.

FROM THE PIONEER — Vehicles lined up outside the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety building to pick up a boxes of food items and a Thanksgiving turkey Tuesday as Big Rapids Rotary provided 135 boxes for families.

The program started in 2008. Ten meals were provided with Rotarian Bob Sinclair taking the lead on the project. When he passed away, Rotary continued the project in memory of Sinclair.
Since 2008, the program has gone from donating ten meals to 135 meals in 2022. This was the most Rotary had given away in the program’s history.  "As far as families, we usually aim for 125. But you get more families — and we've been doing this for so long that if people need something, we'll make it happen," Rotary member Deb Tyson said. "So that's kind of a way you can see the camaraderie here in Rotary."
To buy all the food items needed, the Rotary collects money from their members throughout the year, and hold fundraisers, gun raffles, auctions, donations. This year, each box had a 20 pound turkey, a pan, 10 pounds of potatoes, two bags of stuffing, a pie, rolls, one can of cranberries, two macaroni and cheese boxes, two cans of green beans, two cans of corn and yams.  "It means so much because when we used to deliver to the families, you hear the family stories," Rotary member Pat Cady said. "I used to live in Chicago, and I moved here and I didn't have the welcoming that I had back in Chicago. This would never happen back then. When the kids open up the boxes: 'Oh, cookies in here. Can I have one now?' It pulls at your heartstrings."
The Crossroads Charter Academy (CCA) food drive played a large part in the collection of the items, with over 1,500 items being donated according to Rotary member Cathy Woolen. CCA collected canned corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing and boxed mac and cheese.The food drive took place from Oct. 10 to Nov. 21 with the winning elementary school class receiving two $100 gift cards from Rotary. 
For more information on Big Rapids Rotary, visit or visit their Facebook page.
This project is truly an example of the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self."