Posted by District 7910 on Dec 30, 2020

This is a slightly edited version of a December 29, 2020 article on

This year, the Rotary Club of Southborough had big plans. In addition to supporting annual traditions, the Southborough chapter was looking forward to celebrating its 60th year. Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head.


The club was forced to cancel its Celebrating Service/Celebrating Southborough ceremony, the Annual Talent Show at Trottier Middle School, Earth Day Cleanup, the Food Trucks Festival (with special entertainment planned), and even the Pumpkin Stroll. They were also forced to cancel some of the new projects they were working on (like supporting a special Earth Day Fair to celebrate the holiday’s 50th anniversary and a volunteer’s mission to Guatemala).

 Yet, while community events had to be cut, the community’s need for support grew. Rotary members did what they always do and stepped up to help. Here are highlights of all the good they found ways to do this year (while still finding time for some fun).

Donating thousands of facemasks

As the club posted on Facebook, members masked up this spring to continue on “with service and fellowship.” One of their projects was distributing 2,700 facemasks. Masks were provided by District 7910 for local chapters to pass on to community organizations and institutions. Southborough members distributed them as follows:

  • 1,000 to the public schools of Northborough and Southborough
  • 1,000 to the New England Center for Children
  • 200 (100 donated twice) to Southborough Youth & Family Services
  • 100 to each of the following organizations:
1. The Southborough Housing Authority, for Colonial Gardens affordable-housing complex (mostly for seniors)
2. Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
3. Bethany Hill Place, an affordable-housing complex in Framingham
4. Southborough Library, for patrons at curbside pickup
5. Abby’s House women’s shelter

Project Spirit: Supporting the elections

Southborough President Robert Bussey launched the idea of a Rotary volunteer project to support town clerks struggling to meet the extra demands of this fall’s election season. In Southborough, members volunteered to help out for the September primary and the big November election.

Supporting Southborough Youth & Family Services’ clients

  • Camperships: The club ran a successful Cash4Camperships fundraiser, organizing matching donations, promoting the cause and providing incentives – raising $3,300 for SYFS’ camp scholarship program for summer 2021. 
  • Holiday Gift Card Drive: Rotary club members donated 20 gift cards ($400 worth), matched to a needs list provided by SYFS.
  • Holiday Meal Program: Redirecting funds provided by the district, the Southborough club “delivered a BIG stack of Stop & Shop grocery gift cards” to support the program organized by SYFS. The cards total $2,200 overall. We hope this helps local families facing food insecurity this year to have a brighter moment during the holiday season. Our thanks to the District 7910 team for their support, flexibility and guidance in helping understand how we could use our 2019 district -grant funds to help our community with food insecurity.

Supporting Southborough Food Pantry’s clients

Club members’ donations included:

Other miscellaneous contributions 

  • In addition to providing the shelter with masks, Southborough  members helped promote Girl Scout Troop 75014’s collection drive for Abby’s House and donated needed supplies.
  • Members paid for ice cream treats to thank first responders this summer. 
  • Supporting the Beecology Research Garden at Breakneck Hill: The club was pleased to donate Bigelow Nurseries gift certificates totaling $80 to the Native Plant Gardens of Southborough team, to help them buy native plants for the new Beecology Research Garden. (These gift cards were intended to be 2020 Earth Day event door prizes. But COVID-19 concerns forced cancellation.) The special Beecology Research Garden is located next to the Southborough Community gardens on Breakneck Hill Road. The plants in the Beecology garden are specific to supporting Dr. Robert Gegear’s research around declining species of pollinators.-A pre-pandemic Random Act of Kindness: Were you one of the lucky people who received free coffee at the Red Barn Coffee Roasters – Southborough Route 9 East, or at the Red Barn Coffee on Route 9 West on February 24. That Monday was a Surprise Free Coffee giveaway at Red Barn in Southborough, courtesy of the Southborough club. Why? Because we wanted to do a random act of kindness and get out the word Rotary and our club. Thanks to Red Barn for helping us with our little surprise coffee project. Hope it created a lot of smiles! Each free coffee was accompanied by our club’s information card. Of course, the Red Barns have since been bought out and, these days, the club is meeting via Zoom.However, they did manage to get together a few times in person. A socially distant party was held in a member’s backyard in July. And, the group walked the Beals Preserve, to enjoy Art on the Trails in August.
In the works

As for what to look forward to next year, some of that will depend on how the pandemic plays out. But, here are two of the projects on the Southboirough club's to-do list:

  • Foldscopes: Last winter, the club started researching a project using Foldscopes (an optical-microscope kit made of special folded paper and a lens). The group was planning to work with local scouts. Then, the project had to be temporarily tabled due to the pandemic. They hope to pick it up again when it’s safe to proceed. In the meantime, the group made connections with volunteers planning to travel to Ecuador. Two sets of kits will be supplied for use by teachers in different locations.
  • Wastewater project: Speaking of Ecuador ... The club is working on a project to support diagnostics kits to test for coronavirus in wastewater of selected estuarine towns in five coastal provinces and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.
  • Rotary Coloring Book: A Rotary/Town themed coloring book is being developed through a project with two Southborough Girl Scouts.

To learn more about the Rotary Club of Southborough, click here.

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