Big Rapids Rotary Club distributes three tons of food

Big Rapids Rotary Club members Sue McConnell (left) and Bill Yontz (right) put stuffing mix into the 126 boxes for area families. The Rotary Club has delivered the ingredients for a complete, traditional Thanksgiving meal to families in need for 10 years. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — At an average of 48 pounds of food per family, packing 126 meal boxes means the Rotary Club of Big Rapids gave away more than 6,000 pounds — three tons — of food on Tuesday.

The local Rotary club has been distributing meals at Thanksgiving for 10 years. The effort was started in 2007, when the group provided a holiday meal for 10 families under the direction of Rotarian Bob Sinclair.

“After Bob passed away — he was a great member, a great Rotarian — we felt we needed to do something in his memory,” said Deb Tyson, club president. “He started this out of his house and it was so impactful, even for just a few families. We decided to do 10 more and then 10 more, and now we’re at 126 families today.”

The Rotarians aren’t alone in their efforts. The annual meal is supported by Meijer, Save-a-Lot, Walgreens and Walmart, and three student organizations from Ferris State University help pack the boxes. Sigma Alpha Epsilon, a social fraternity; Kappa Psi, a pharmaceutical student organization; and Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society, assisted Rotarians Tuesday.

“We love to help the community out,” said Justin Walejewski, SAE president. “We’ve been doing this for three years now, and we can see the impact it has on people, the joy on people’s faces when they get the food. We hope to be helping in cooperation with Rotary for years to come.”

The program has grown nine out of the 10 years of its existence, and delivered a total of more than 15 tons of food to families who may otherwise have not had a traditional meal for the holiday. Families receive everything necessary for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, including a foil pan to use when cooking the turkey.

“It’s a huge dinner,” Tyson said. “It’s probably enough food for them to get more than one meal out of it.”


Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at

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