BRANDON — Even in tough economic times, the Brandon Rotary Club raised more than $70,000 for eight local charities this year.
But it hasn't been easy, admitted Jeff Reynolds, the immediate past-president of the Rotary Club.
"This is one of the most challenging years we've seen in several decades," Reynolds said, speaking at Tuesday's Rotary Club Luncheon, held at Center Place, 619 Vonderburg Drive.
"And next year will be more difficult than the last," he continued, so fellow Rotarians should "be prepared to be asked to do a little more work."
For the year ending June 30, 2009, the club raised $76,706 which was divided between eight local charities, including: Carey Boys & Girls Club, I Am HOPE Cafe, Brandon Life Care Pregnancy, Brandon Outreach Clinic, Emergency Care Help Organization or ECHO, Brandon Rotary Scholarship Fund, Rotary Camp Florida and the Rotary Foundation.
When selecting a charity to support, every Rotarian gets to name a charity of their choice, said Brandon Rotary publicity chairman, Ron Croone. The club then votes on these charities over several meetings and the members distribute the money based on the number of votes each charity gets.
Since the club's founding in 1960, they have given $1,790,850 to various local charities, Croone said.
ECHO executive director Stacey Efaw, said she appreciated the $13,292 check she received Tuesday, assuring the audience that organization needs the money to help local residents in need of food, clothing and household items.
"You do not know how much this is needed," Efaw said. "Our numbers are up 12 percent this year. We're seeing a lot of past donors come in for food."
Debbie Meegan, director of the Brandon Outreach Clinic, shared those sentiments. She declared that the $7,077 check she received would allow the clinic to continue to help residents.
"At the clinic, we are passionate about the health care of the uninsured," Meegan said. "We're celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and this club has been a supporter of ours from the very beginning."
Tim Black, secretary of the I Am HOPE Cafe and associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon, said he is grateful for the $5,331 donation his group received to help homeless people get back on their feet.
"We saw a need to assist the homeless, and it has been a miracle to see our community pull together to help," Black said.
Sean Ledig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.