When the Skaneateles Rotary Club asked for help raising money this season for families in need, the community responded with generous kindness.
The effort soared past record years when the Rotary Club’s Holiday Food Basket fundraiser could be held in person — raising more than $20,000 to be shared between the Skaneateles and Spafford Food Pantries and Skaneateles Outreach.
“It is a beautiful example of collaboration among committee members, Rotarians and community members,” said Rotarian Roberta Williams, the committee chair. Williams credited the hard work of Rotarian Jay Stith and his small team for designing “a creative way to help the community even without our annual fundraiser.”
The virtual fundraiser allowed a larger and broader number of people to donate this year, said Rotarian Ward Vuillemot. Donations came from all parts of the community, Rotarians and non-Rotarians.
Helen Glowacki said her family “chose to give to the Christmas basket fundraiser because of the diligent efforts that we’ve seen made in the past when our kids were involved with Interact,” a Rotary-sponsored school club that has traditionally adopted families at the holidays and spearheaded a massive cookie drive to be added to food baskets.
“However, as busy as we have all been living during this pandemic, it is easy to forget those who are in need. I could honestly say that if it weren’t for Karen Price reaching out and texting the families of former Rotary Youth Exchange students as well as the faculty of Waterman school, I would have neglected to make the donation on my own. It is in her honor that we’ve made the donations this past year. She is an amazing ambassador for Skaneateles Rotary.”
It was appreciation for the Rotary Club and the entire Skaneateles community that lead Jim Vitkus and family to donate. “It is only natural that we wanted to contribute,” he said, mentioning “paying it back” as well as “paying it forward.”
Vitkus and his family are appreciative of the community “and also realize how fortunate we’ve been,” he said. “We know how many people are in need.” Giving, he said, goes full circle.
This year, his family witnessed the giving spirit of Skaneateles in a very personal way, after daughter Dianne fell on July 19 and suffered a C6 spinal cord injury that has changed her life.
The support has been incredible, Vitkus said. “Dianne is motivated by everyone’s support of her.” Likewise, people here and around the country are inspired by Dianne’s positive spirit and follow her progress and hard work at the Spaulding Rehab Center in Boston on Instagram under @vittysvoyage. Family and friends of Dianne are raising money for the nonprofit Help Hope Live to fund uninsured medical expenses associated with catastrophic injury.
As the entire family adjusts to what will be a lifelong journey and challenge for Dianne, her father is grateful to be grounded in what he calls “our special little town.”
"Grateful" and "thankful": Words his extraordinary daughter uses regularly in her posts as she adjusts, learning to sit up and gaining strength to transfer to and from a wheelchair. And so he gives — paying it back and paying it forward, as people here tend to do.
“Thank you,” said Rotarian Lee Bennett, in gratitude for the giving community. “Thank you, Skaneateles.”