Local Rotaries unite to ‘stuff-a-bus’

Service above self


On a recent Saturday morning, “service above self” was evident when Rotarians from the Moriches and Seatuck clubs, as well as a group of student volunteers from East Moriches Middle School’s Interact Club and Girl Scout Troop 4000, braved the rain to collect nonperishable foods and toiletries as part of Rotary’s Day of Service. The international organization’s motto is “Service above self.”

Rotary’s Day of Service is a district-wide annual event that, this year, saw more than 500 clubs and 14,000 Rotarians across five states and three countries volunteer in different capacities, including collecting clothes for the homeless, collecting food pantry items, refurbishing parks, and more, according to Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Moriches Rotary Club.

Moriches Rotarians, including Brown-Volkman, stood in front of King Kullen, while Seatuck Rotarians, including club president Rosanne Gencarelli, stood in front of Lidl.

Residents who were doing their shopping dropped nonperishables, including boxes of cereal, pasta, rice, canned beans, popcorn, and more into a designated shopping cart. When shoppers couldn’t think of what to donate, they often gave money, which the Rotarians used to purchase needed items. The clubs worked together to raise money and items for the pantries at Center Moriches Methodist Church, St. John’s Church Center, and Eastport Bible Church.

“The food pantries are really empty now. In November and December, they are stocked because people are extremely generous around the holidays, but then people get busy with their lives and start to donate their time and money to other places. We recognized this and want to make sure the food pantries are filled year-round,” said Brown-Volkman.

This year, the Rotarians had a goal to stock the pantries with items that are needed, but in short supply.

“We try to ask for some of the things that people don’t normally donate,” said Brown-Volkman.

Some of the less-donated items include baby formula, cleaning supplies, women’s feminine products, and toiletry items like deodorant, body spray, lotion, and razors.

In addition to the Rotarians, the middle school’s Interact Club was also present. Interact is considered a branch of Rotary. Interact’s volunteers were happy to spend their Saturday raising goods and money for local pantries.

“We get to help the community and help make it a better place,” said Riley Bishop, 11, an Interact Club member, of why she volunteered her time.

The club’s parent advisor said that the youngsters volunteering their time is especially interesting because it was all their idea.

“They start with nothing at the beginning of the year and think of ways to fundraise in the community. So, it was their idea to come out today. I think that’s really important because when you pick what you do, you really take ownership over it,” said Sherry Kretsch, Interact Club advisor for East Moriches Middle School.

Kretsch also said that she admires the students’ commitment to helping others, especially at such a young age. There were 10 student volunteers at the Rotary Day of Service event.

“It’s special because they’re taking the time they could have spent with their family and using it to help out other families. I think they’re rockstars!”


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