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Rotary Club of Yelm President Larry Hanson combats his cold with a beer Thursday, Jan. 3, as he addresses the club during a year in review meeting. The club has facilitated around a dozen community events and fundraisers this year, and is looking to find more success as the club enters its 10th year of existence.

Rotary Club of Yelm members met last Thursday evening during a regular meeting to look back on what they accomplished in 2019 and look forward to even larger efforts in the year to come. 

Throughout 2019, the “small but mighty” club facilitated about a dozen community activities, fundraisers, support programs and events. 

The club will also be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. No date has been set, but members discussed a potential celebration in March. 

The club’s Executive Secretary and Director Sandi Hanson said two of the biggest events this year for the Rotary Club of Yelm were the 10 Weeks of Summer Lunch program, which raised about $24,000 for around 2,300 bags of food for hungry students in the community, and the annual Prairie Stampede 5K Fundraiser. 

About 210 bags were packed each week during the 10 Weeks program. Hanson said she expects an increase in student distribution next year to include students in Rainier and the Bald Hills area. 

Rotary has done this event for the last three summers. 

“10 Weeks is a big ordeal. It’s a big undertaking. It takes a village because without the people in the club and the people who volunteer putting in hours, it wouldn’t be the success it is,” President Larry Hanson said. 

Another notable effort the club undertook this last year was teacher grants. The club awarded about $4,800 to 12 Yelm Community Schools teachers with a classroom wishlist to help with resources. They focused this year on literacy materials. 

Sandi Hanson said the club plans on developing a consistent fundraising event to help pay for the grants on an annual basis. 

For the last six years, Yelm Rotary has also been spearheading the Student of the Month program, which is sponsored by the local businesses and presented in front of the Yelm City Council. 

“I’d like to see that grow this year, maybe a few more business sponsors,” Larry Hanson noted. 

Yelm Mayor JW Foster chimed in and said the city is hoping to keep its relationship with the Rotary strong. Getting the youth familiar with the community efforts Rotary facilitates is also beneficial, he said. 

“From the city’s perspective, this has been a great partnership with the school district,” Foster said. 

“This is how we demonstrate to our students that we’re listening, we’re watching, we appreciate what you’re doing, and there’s a ripple effect to that.” 

Rotary also received $5,000 from the Nisqually Tribe Charitable Fund in December. 

Larry Hanson noted that as the number of events Yelm Rotary undertakes continues to add up, so too does their membership. 

Bill McGregor, a Port of Olympia commissioner who is also a member, noted that the community has been the sole benefactor of the club’s increase in workload. 

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