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Rotary on the Ridge Offers "Otter-Grams" for Special Occasions

Looking for a new fundraiser to help offset COVID-19 losses, the Rotary on the Ridge is now offering "Otter-grams" for special occasions.

The regional after-hours service club had to postpone its Treasure Map fundraiser until 2021, so the club came up with a unique gift idea to make up some of the lost revenue.

The club has a human-sized otter costume it uses to make presentations of the Josh the Otter water safety program to area kindergartens and day cares. A costumed club member now will dress up as the otter and show up at a person's home, worksite, or other location. The otter does a little dance, offers hugs and presents a custom card, balloons or other gifts for the special occasion. (Otter wranglers wear masks and practice social distancing.)

The club's first "Otter Gram" recipient was Christie Baynard Bice, a major otter-lover. Her friends Cathy Garrett and Margaret Lassiter joined the otter at A.D. Baynard Plumbing with a birthday cake, banner and "happy birthday" song playing on an I-phone. Friends Cindy Grady and Sandy Stephens couldn't be there but also sponsored Bice's birthday surprise.

The club is requesting a minimum $50 donation to the Rotary on the Ridge Foundation to purchase an otter-gram. Proceeds will go toward the club's water safety initiative, which in addition to the school and day care presentations, eventually will include free swim lessons.

"Who wouldn't want to be hugged by a big, fuzzy otter?" asked club co-founder and Executive Secretary Chevon Baccus. "An otter-gram is a perfect and unique gift for not only birthdays, but also anniversaries, Valentine's Day or other special occasions and celebrations."

Bice was delighted by her otter-gram gift, calling it "the best ever."

To find out more or to schedule an otter-gram, email Baccus at [email protected].

Rotary on the Ridge was recognized with a 2019-2020 Water Safety Advocacy Award by the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation, which produces the Josh the Otter materials. The club made presentations in 2019 to more than 500 children at Chain of Lakes and Spook Hill elementary schools and at day care centers in Dundee and Lake Wales.

Club member LaVaughn Williamson, a professional photographer with Williamson Photography of Lake Wales, is working with other club members to produce a water safety video that can be offered to schools unable to accommodate in-person presentations due to the pandemic. The club presents each child with a coloring book and water safety pledge sticker and provides the classroom with a Josh the Otter book and puppet.

Rotary on the Ridge in early January will be seeking prize donations for the Treasure Map. Thirty daily prizes worth at least $150 will be awarded in daily drawings in April. Each $10 donation to the Rotary on the Ridge Foundation gives the donor one chance at winning a daily prize from the treasure map. All drawing tickets go back into the bin for a chance at a grand prize on April 30.

To donate treasure map prizes, or for more information about Rotary on the Ridge, email Baccus at [email protected].

About Rotary on the Ridge. A regional after-hours service club with members throughout East Polk County, Rotary on the Ridge was chartered by Rotary International in December 2016. The club meet from 5-6 p.m. Mondays in person at Oullette Law Firm community room, 151 E. Central Ave. in Lake Wales, and also via the ZOOM online platform. Guests are welcome. Rotary on the Ridge was named 2020 Club of the Year for District 6890, which includes 37 clubs in four counties. The club's priorities are community service, business networking, fellowship and fun.


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