In its capacity as a nonprofit service club organization, the Petal Rotary Club is able to apply for grants to help with projects for service in education, health and other initiatives.
Wanting to use that to help The Coleman Center for Families and Children’s Backyard Bus program – which brings learning resources and meals to the Petal School District community – officials from the club recently applied for and were awarded a grant from Rotary District 6840 that helped them reach their goal of $2,000 to help buy supplies for the center’s bus.
“Petal is really into our education system, and we are excited with the Excel By 5 program that we have for the younger children,” said Kelly Stevens, president of Petal Rotary Club. “We always have done things with the schools, and we used to do it with the third-grade dictionaries, but because basically anybody can get on the Internet now, we decided that we would go for the younger kids, so that they could be introduced to books more.”
The grant from Rotary District 6840 was approximately $500, so Petal Rotary Club members conducted “split the pot” fundraisers to make up the difference toward the $2,000. The funds were used to purchase items such as books, puzzles and puppets.
“We were very excited; we have a good time,” Stevens said. “Our motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ so we’re always looking to do things to help around in our community.”
Dede Smith, director of The Coleman Center, said she is extremely appreciative of the donation.
“This is not the first time they’ve made a donation, and the things they donate, we have used every time,” she said. “And they filled a gap that we otherwise would not have been able to fill.
“The underlying goal is to promote early learning and literacy, so the Rotary Club, that goes right along with their overall theme.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials have not been able to utilize the Backyard Bus, which also delivers meals during the summer, but Smith said that will hopefully change in the near future.
“My staff has just come back to work on a regular basis over the last week and a half,” she said. “We’ve been really sad about (not being able to use the bus), but we’re anticipating being able to kick that off in just a few weeks. And when we do, we’ll be able to utilize those resources (from the grant).”