The motto of Rotary International is “Service Above Self,” and that happened recently in Seward with the annual Stuff the Cruiser campaign, as hundreds of toys were distributed to families in the annual toy drive.
The campaign by the Seward Rotary Club (Nebraska, US – D 5650) and the Seward Police Department was officially declared a success by all involved, as the local, annual toy distribution was completed on Dec 16 at the Seward Civic Centre.
The event featured parents selecting from a wide array of toys and gifts for each registered child, ages birth to 12.
The gifts, donated by the community, were directed for children who may not be able to experience a Christmas because of family financial concerns.
Guardians and parents simply had to register their children for the event. Multiple gifts were offered for each child.
The event featured a special reception at the Civic Centre with Christmas music, cookies, donuts and candy as the parents waited their turn to select and receive their sack of toys, gifts, gift cards, movie passes, games and books.
“The number of children involved from across Seward County was equal to last year, as almost 100 children were each presented with toys and gifts collected from the community of Seward residents,” Alan Baldwin, Rotary co-chairman for the project, said.
A lucky draw was held to distribute the large gifts and bikes donated.
“We were so grateful for the major cash gifts from area individuals, families, businesses and organisations, as it allowed us to purchase items the parents really wanted for the children,” Shelia Beins, Rotarian and event hostess, said.
Volunteers helped collect and distribute the gifts that morning.
“We really appreciated the assistance from the Concordia girls’ softball team with the collection of gifts, and the SHS student volunteers, who helped with the distribution of gifts,” Rotarian and longtime project leader Sue Tonniges, said.
“This project really brings our Rotary Club together and involves more members than any other project we do during the year,” Rotary President Russ Sommerfeld said.
“The Rotarians and their spouses and families work very hard to make sure that every request is as close to being filled as possible and that every child is guaranteed toys and gifts for Christmas.”
Baldwin said the generosity shown this year exceeded previous toy drives.
“In all of my years of serving and promoting this project, I have never seen the outpouring of generosity from the community, as I did this year,” he said.
Event chairs for the annual event were Melanie Ayres for the Seward Rotary Club and Baldwin for the Seward Police Department.
Seward Rotarians Tonniges and Beins served as the volunteer coordinators of distribution for the project, assisted by the other members and spouses of the Seward Rotary Club and Seward Police Department.
The phone contact volunteers were Rotary members Jon and Bonnie Kruse, who tabulated the parents and children’s names for the distribution.
Also assisting were the GFWC Seward Woman’s Club and the Concordia University softball team.