Renfrew – It was almost like watching a modern version of the Pony Express Saturday at the Renfrew Fairgrounds when A.J. Davidson made his way down the laneway towards the Renfrew Rotary Club booth with one thought on his mind.
He was next in line behind two vehicles and he was there to pick up his Bacon-on-a-Bun sandwich, the same sandwich that has songs written in its honour. However, Mr. Davidson was thrilled because he didn’t have to wait until the annual September Renfrew Fair to get a sandwich. He was also helping to raise money for the Central Public School (CPS) Playground Equipment Campaign.
As he trotted back towards the bi-weekly Penning Team competition on the other end of the field, longtime Rotarian Janet Springer explained the concept behind the Rotary Club’s involvement with the campaign.
“When the Renfrew Rotary Club members learned that CPS was in dire need of support to rebuild its playground, we decided the project was a perfect way to mark our club’s 100th anniversary,” she said. “The club, which has been one of Renfrew’s most active service clubs for several decades, decided the Rotary Helping Kids initiative would help boost the ongoing fundraising efforts to raise the $120,000 needed for the new, safe playground.”
She explained the club was looking for some new programs aimed towards children and to promote physical fitness, community engagement and a cause that involved a larger target amount in order to join a true community project. The participation of both CPS students and staff during the campaign impressed not only the Rotary Club, but many other community partners.
“Staff and students have raised $45,000 and Rotary, in partnership with No Frills, Canadian Tire and myFM, is contributing funds and labour to complete the project,” was the message sent out through the school. “Home Hardware, ProTyre and Herb Shaw Lumber have provided materials in support of this community-based project.”
She quickly pointed out there is a sense of urgency to achieve the goal of $120,000 since the end of the school year is quickly approaching. The students have been a big part of the fundraising drive and when CPS finishes the school year, there will be less participation from both students and staff.
“It’s the summer time and it is only natural they will want a break from the fundraising they have done and that is why you see groups and businesses like Rotary jumping in to help,” she said. “The fundraising drive is truly a community project with several businesses and organizations stepping up to help have a new structure in place for the children as quickly as possible.”
When the club agreed to join the fundraising campaign they all knew there was one surefire and well known way for them to raise money. There was no need to reinvent the wheel as they were the operators of one of the Renfrew Fair’s most well-known and cherished traditions.
“Anyone from Renfrew, or a visitor to the Renfrew Fair has heard of the Rotary Bacon-on-a-Bun at the fair and every year people will come from far and wide to have their annual bacon sandwich,” she said.
“We were happy to have our MP, Cheryl Gallant drop by in the morning and we had our MPP, John Yakabuski helping us out in the kitchen. John has a natural energy that was shared with all our volunteers out here raising money.”
Ms. Springer was also involved in the highly successful Drive –Thru bacon sandwich event the club sponsored at the height of the COVID pandemic.
“Everyone was so disappointed the fair had to be cancelled a couple of years ago because that is such an important time for current residents and those who come home for the week,” she said. “The drive-thru in September 2020 went off without a hitch and it was a smashing success.”
When the day ended after six fun hours of flipping bacon and serving a busy drive-thru that included more than 250 vehicles and two or three horses, the Rotarians sent out more than 1,000 sandwiches that will allow the club to donate about $6,300 towards the campaign.
This fundraising effort has a very personal meaning for some recent recruits to the Renfrew club. Ms. Springer said when the new owners of the No Frills in Renfrew took over the store, they quickly joined the Rotary Club.
Chris and Tanya Wojcik became involved in the community and they joined fellow Rotarians and the new owners of the Canadian Tire outlet, Bill and Bobbi Sears.
“Both stores have been so supportive of the campaign and they have stepped up by running some major raffles of their donated prizes,” she said. “I can’t provide an exact number but I know the first weekend our members and some young volunteers from the school sold around 2,000 tickets and people kept coming up to buy more.”
As the last of the Rotarians locked up the doors of their booth, they were looking forward to next Saturday (June 25) when a group of them will be donating their time at CPS and using landscaping tools and equipment to prepare the ground for the new playground.
“That’s what we have been doing for the last 100 years,” Ms. Springer said. “So many people have been part of our club over the years and we love helping our community any way we can. “
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader