Locally, in the city of Vineland and surrounding areas, the Rotary Club of Vineland is well known for its commitment to service. Local organizations count on the club’s continued support and we’re happy to provide it. Some examples of local service activities include:
Distributing Dictionaries: During the months of October and November each year, more than 1,000 dictionaries are distributed to third grade students at 12 different schools — both public and private. Rotarians visit each classroom to talk with the children about how to use a dictionary and about the importance of good vocabulary and reading. These visits also give the club an opportunity to speak with children about service and why we should always be kind to others. This program is a favorite among club members, students and teachers alike — and we have hundreds of “thank-you” notes (each more adorable than the last) to prove it!
Striking Out Hunger with The Phillies: Every August the club fills a bus with Phillies fans and heads to a game that’s dedicated to raising the awareness of hunger and educating people on how to help. Upon arrival, club members unload huge supplies of canned goods for donation to those in need. The canned goods are collected at club meetings for months prior to the game.
College Scholarships: One of the most exciting events of the year is Scholarship night. This past year alone, the Rotary Club of Vineland awarded more than $20,000 in scholarships to 18 college-bound, high school graduates. Many of the scholarships are given in memory of Rotary members and community leaders. This is a wonderful way to honor these special people and help to further the education of local scholars and young leaders.
Awarding Vocational Service: Each year Vineland Rotary recognizes an individual (non-Rotarian) who has achieved outstanding vocational service and contributed his or her talents to helping solve problems and meet the needs of the community.
Challenger League: In 1990, Vineland Rotary Club President, Dr. Albert Marsh challenged members to construct an all-purpose, handicapped-accessible club house at the North Vineland Little League field (Dr. Charles Cunningham Park) so that any mentally or physically challenged boys and girls could have the opportunity to play baseball. The facility was completed in 2005. The first season of play began in 2008, with two teams and 30 children ages 5-18. The children came from Cumberland, Salem, Atlantic and Cape May counties. Since then, the Challenger League has grown to 10 teams and more than 100 players — and changed the lives of countless children and their families.
Weekly games are played on Saturday afternoons at Cunningham Park. Uniforms are given to players. Club members assist the players on the field as “buddies.” Rotary members also involve other community groups in the area. The Blitz Cheerleaders, the Bar Association, Capitol Bank, Newfield Bank, Vineland High School Boys Baseball & Girls Softball teams, and the St. Augustine Prep baseball team assisted the players as did the VHS Interact and CCC Rotaract and numerous other high school clubs. The season ends with a family barbecue and each player receives a well-deserved trophy.
Blood Drives: Since 1997, the Rotary Club of Vineland has sponsored multiple blood drives each year, collecting more than 2,000 donations. Club members and their friends, family and co-workers are invited to donate. The drives are also open to the public and continue to grow in popularity.
A Holiday Party for Kids with Special Needs: In December 2017, the Rotary Club of Vineland held the 30th Annual Special Needs Party, featuring a Christmas theme for 150 children in the Vineland Public School system. The children are treated to holiday movies, sing-a-longs, snacks and treats, and festive gift bags delivered by Santa himself. For some of these children, this is the only gift they receive during the holidays. This event is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Vineland Charities Foundation with support from donations by fellow Rotarians.
Wreaths of Remembrance: Initiated by the Vineland Rotary Club, this annual event honoring our veterans is held at the Cumberland County Veterans Cemetery. Rotarians, veterans, armed forces members, family members and Interact Club students honor our deceased veterans by laying wreaths on more than 1,100 graves, following by the recital of a prayer. Ceremonies are held at each cemetery where seven large wreaths are displayed recognizing six branches of the Armed Services and MIA’s. Although a solemn occasion, the participants are very touched and gratified by being part of this ceremony.