The Rotary Club of Columbia has a full slate of programs in which it participates and supports. Following is a listing of the main projects, programs and fundraisers with a short description of each. In all its activities, the theme Service Above Self is always present.
Dictionaries are bought and handed out to Howard County third graders. This is a district-wide project and The Rotary Club of Columbia covers seven elementary schools contributing about 1,000 dictionaries to the children, many who come from low-income homes.
4-Way Test Speech Contest
In the spring, high school students participate in a 4-Way Speech Contest for a District-wide contest to win a scholarship. The Rotary Club of Columbia holds a contest for students at the Freestate Challenge Program Cadets & Students in Aberdeen for at-risk adolescents 16 to 18 years old. Four to five of the students give their speeches at a regular club meeting and members choose the one that will represent the club at the district-wide contest. In addition, the Club gives the speech winner a $500 scholarship. In the fall, a 4-Way Test contest is held as well with the Club giving a $500 scholarship but the winner does not go to the district level. The theme for the contest is based on Rotary’s 4-Way Test.
Loan Closet of Howard County helps all indigent, elderly handicapped and consists of donations of durable medical equipment and serves more than 500 residents. The point person for this project is John Startt. This project has been in operation since 2005 and helps those persons who temporarily need durable equipment from many sources, each year. Members deliver and pick-up durable medical equipment in Howard County including personal donations and medical equipment as needed.
Potluck and Holiday Dinners
Fellowship is an important part of the Rotary Club of Columbia. Quarterly potluck dinners at different member homes help build friendships and involve the family and holiday dinners are celebrated at local restaurants.
Rebuilding Together (formerly, Christmas In April)
The club members get down and dirty on the last Saturday in April when they participate in helping a local indigent or elderly resident with home repairs. The Rotary Club of Columbia members paint, repair, trim shrubs, and perform other duties as needed to help those in Howard County that are unable to do it themselves.
The Rotary Club of Columbia has raised thousands of dollars to help eradicate polio. Four members have traveled to India to help immunize children during the international immunization week. Millions of children worldwide have benefited in the eradication efforts by Rotary and the Gates Foundation has supported this major effort with millions of dollars as well. Club member Raj Saini has been a leader in fundraising for PolioPlus.
The Rotary Foundation’s mission is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education and the alleviation of poverty. The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. Every dollar that is donated is invested allowing the interest to fund programs and ensuring that each donation given amounts to more than the original donation. Some of the programs have included PolioPlus, Peace Centers and grants to help Rotarians around the world with their service projects. Other International Projects
Other areas have also benefited from The Rotary Club of Columbia, including the Safe Blood program; the Starfish School Project in Maceio, Alagoas; building wells in Zimbabwe; and helping communities hit by the tsunami in Thailand and the hurricane in Haiti in which the Club contributed funds directly to the people through the local Rotary clubs. Other projects over the years have included, helping impoverished students in Brazil; cleft palate repair in India; literacy projects and much more.
100 squares (per board) are sold in a pool for the NCAA Final Four basketball game. All members help sell the squares to raise $10,000 gross per board ($1,250 goes to three winners based on the scores of the first half, second half and final). Funds raised go toward the Scholar-Athlete Awards program.
William Jefferson Memorial Golf Benefit
A major fundraiser since 1969, the golf tournament is held on the second Monday in September. Grossing up to $45,000 each year with tournament and hole sponsors and individual golfers, funds are given out at the Charity Awards program in the spring. Normally, there are about 100 golfers that participate at one of the Howard County golf clubs.