Rotary Club presents checks to Duck Race beneficiaries
After a successful 2017 Duck Race that included 70 sponsors, the Daniel Island Rotary Club hosted a breakfast at the Daniel Island Club to present local beneficiaries with their checks on Wednesday, Aug. 2.
“It’s been a long year but it’s been a culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people,” said Rotary member George Jucha. “We are very excited about today.”
In the 11 years that the Daniel Island Rotary has held the Duck Race, they have managed to raise over $1.3 million for charity and Rotary International, explained Jucha.
“Some of the funds go to help with our polio fight and the water systems around the world,” he said. “We’re all very proud to be able to contribute to the Rotary in doing that. But now, what we really want to do is we want to be able to give the money on to our local beneficiaries.”
Beneficiaries included the three local elementary schools, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, Berkeley County Library, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, Camp Happy Days, Doors to Freedom, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) and the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
Of the money that was awarded, the Daniel Island Community Fund provided half of all the funds.
First up to receive their checks were the principals for the three local elementary schools. Aidra Shaw of Cainhoy Elementary, Kori Brown of Daniel Island School and Karen Whitley of Philip Simmons Elementary School were all awarded $15,000 each.
Shaw explained that the funds will go to help provide a playground for students at Cainhoy Elementary.
“When I was assigned as the principal, the first thing I noticed was the exterior and it needs a lot of work,” said Shaw. “It is a beautiful building and an icon in the community, but it needs some work and some TLC. So, this is going to provide some engaging outside equipment for our children. Our goal is $200,000.”
For Daniel Island School, the $15,000 will aid in setting up parent nights, according to Brown.
“Our funds this year will be used to address our goal of communication,” said Brown. “In that, we are going to be hosting some parent nights to help bridge that gap of communication with what the expectations are now as opposed to when we were students.”
At Philip Simmons Elementary School, Whitley said the funds will go to buying robotics for the school’s state-of-the-art Maker’s Space.
“The room is a place for learners to come and discover, share, design and build different kinds of things,” said Whitley. “They’ll also be pushed out into our curriculum.”
East Cooper Meals on Wheels, a national organization that provides meals to people who are homebound and cannot prepare meals for themselves, was awarded $5,000. According to President and CEO George Roberts, the funds will aid in supplying healthier meals for their growing population.
“In my five years, I’ve had the privilege of delivering meals to a veteran on his 93 birthday after he served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam,” said Roberts. “I have one recipient who still has the numbers on his forearm from the German war camp. It’s a part of history and when you talk to them, they have all, in one way or another, served us and kind of laid the foundation for things that we enjoy today. We think it’s our turn to return the favor.”
The Berkeley County Library, which has six locations spread throughout the County, was also awarded $5,000. Gene Brunson, Berkeley County Library Director, explained that the money will help the mobile library as well as the existing and new locations.
“We’re building a location in Cainhoy as well,” said Brunson. “Your resources will go great to help the Daniel Island library, the Cainhoy area and the Wando area as well.”
The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, whose mission is to prevent abuse, to protect children and to heal families in the Lowcountry received $4,000.
“Your contribution here will help us spread the word about prevention,” explained the center’s representative. “April is National Childhood Abuse Prevention month and the keystone of our efforts is a free movie night. We know that healthy families are one of our best prevention tools so we provide a free family activity—an outdoor movie—which because of your generosity, we were able to bring to Daniel Island and have at the soccer stadium.”
Camp Happy Days, a non-profit that provides year-around, cost-free programs for children who are battling cancer, was awarded $5,000. These funds will help provide transportation for the children who could not otherwise get to camp, according to the representative.
“Our flagship program is a summer camp,” she explained. “In four years, we have gone from 175 kids at that camp to 275 and from 150 volunteers to 300 volunteers. We’ve been able to do this with the support from the Rotary Club because we are now able to bus children in to camp. What we found in the years prior to that, is the barrier for access for camp was not having transportation. By being able to offer transportation and to have medical staff on the buses and volunteers, we’ve been able to increase our numbers of children at camp which is just amazing.”
A local nonprofit that works with survivors of sex trafficking, Doors to Freedom, was awarded $3,000. According to the representative, in 2016, the number of cases had tripled in the Lowcountry area. In order to help these girls lead a more normal life, the organization will use the funds to help the victims receive a high school degree.
“The girls we work with are age 12-20, so we’re talking about really young girls that are being abused,” he said. “They come to us and our goal is to help them find new life, restore hope and a beautiful future. We believe the first aspect of that is helping them get their high school education. Most of the girls come to our program around 10th grade or so in what age they’re in, but they’re usually testing at 4th and 5th grade levels because when that is happening to you it’s hard to learn.”
The CYDC was next to receive their award of $2,500 and according to CEO Beverly Hardin, the money will go towards incentives to academically motivate the kids.
“Our kids come to us in the middle of the night with the shirts on their back and the shoes on their feet,” said Hardin. “We do our very best to care for them and put them on a pathway to a bright future. The one thing that I am really passionate about that this check will go very far to help is that we can’t give our kids a pass on their education because their going through trauma. We ask for funds to help provide incentives and motivation and rewards for kids to help support them academically. That’s the gift of the Duck Race for CYDC.”
The final beneficiary to receive a check was the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital for $1200. No one was present at the breakfast to accept the award.
In his closing remarks, Jucha emphasized the importance of supporting the surrounding community.
“This is why we do the Duck Race each year. This is why we continue to do it—to help our community, to help you who are really the people who are doing the heavy lifting.”