Christmas Giving - Rotary Style



The Putnam Rotary Club filled gift request for local agencies serving northeastern Connecticut at its annual gift exchange. Left to right: Putnam Rotary Club President Paul Pikora; Jenn Plaza, Junior Review Board coordinator for the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group (TEEG); Rotarian Richard Naumann, aka “Santa”; Donna Grant, executive director of TEEG; Putnam Rotarian Jeff Rawson, gift organizer; and Patty Bryant, director of the Putnam Family Resource Center. Courtesy photo

PUTNAM, CT --- Again this year, the Putnam Rotary Club’s annual gift exchange was focused on the true meaning of the holiday instead of gag gifts. Putnam Rotarians never miss an opportunity to serve the community.

Years ago, recognizing the overwhelming need in the northeastern Connecticut community it serves, Putnam Rotarians decided to fill gift requests for the agencies serving those less fortunate.

Putnam Rotary President Paul Pikora said this is the third year the Rotarians have stepped up with gifts for others at holiday time. “The hard work and support of Putnam Rotarians all year long is immense,” Pikora said.

This year, each Rotarian received a gift bag. On the tag was the name of an agency and a suggested gift. Putnam Rotarians filled those gift bags and then some, culminating with “Santa” dropping by the gift exchange meeting and thanking the Putnam Rotarian “elves” for their generosity.

Some 80 to 90 gifts were distributed to the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group (TEEG) and the Putnam Family Resource Center, according to Rotarian organizer Jeff Rawson.

Donna Grant, executive director of TEEG, thanked the Putnam Rotarians for their holiday gifts and their year-long support of TEEG. She said many last-minute requests were made to TEEG. “I think some families thought they could do it, but saw at the last minute that, no, they could not.”

Patty Bryant, director of the Putnam Family Resource Center, also thanked the Putnam Rotary “elves.” She called the support from the Putnam Rotary and the community at large “mind-boggling.”

TEEG and the resource center are just a few of the many northeastern Connecticut organizations supported by the Putnam Rotary all year long.

Pikora, when taking the reins of president last summer, decided that the Putnam Rotary Club could do more. Each month Putnam Rotarians bring in items and monetary donations for a group that is in need. It might be boxes of pasta for the Daily Bread community kitchen one month or school items to fill backpacks for students in need at the Putnam Family Resource Center.

Whatever the need, the Putnam Rotary Club is there. Throughout the year, the club raises more than $60,000 and turns most of it back out to the community it serves. From American Legion baseball to the Bradley Playhouse to Habitat for Humanity to Scouts to Scholarships, the list is very long, indeed.

Putnam Rotary’s “elves” work all year long, serving northeastern Connecticut