FITCHBURG — The dark green wooden flower boxes around the Upper Common and other areas of the city are once again filled with colorful blooms thanks to members and volunteers of the Rotary Club of Fitchburg East who recently planted for fundraising club annual.
Local businesses, organizations, individuals and families can sponsor a box for $125, along with a plaque acknowledging the sponsorship, which they can help design.
“This is one of our major fundraisers and the funds go directly back into the community,” said Bill Walsh, a club member of 14 years, having spent at least half that time as committee chair. of the flower project. . “Projects we are involved in and scholarships.”
Those involved begin preparing the boxes once spring arrives, removing all weeds and adding topsoil, then picking flowers at the ATM Greenhouse in Lunenburg. Walsh said the actual planting, which took place last weekend, is the “highlight” of the project.
“It doesn’t take that long if there are a lot of people,” he said. The sponsorship plaque can include a company’s name and logo, be in memory of someone “or a family who wishes to carry on their name”.
Walsh said a portion of the funds raised this year will go to a water project they are running in Uganda and previous funds have been donated to Habitat for Humanity and the local Eagle Scouts.
“We do families in need over the holidays where we use some of the money to care for children in the school system, identify families who might need help and distribute the money around,” a- he declared. “The money is entirely donated to the community.”
The flower boxes are one of two major fundraisers the club holds each year, the other being the Super Bowl Brunch. Much of the money the club raises through fundraisers goes toward thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded each year to students at city schools, including Fitchburg High School and Goodrich Academy.
“FHS has a minor Rotary club,” Walsh said. “Students participate in projects and activities that they come to us for financial assistance and they have a guidance counselor who monitors their activities.”
He said the scholarships are “based on community involvement and academics” and FHS Rotary students are preferred.
“These young people are ahead of the game in community engagement and they come out on top when it comes to getting scholarships,” Walsh said.
Club vice-president Bob Campbell said the water project in Uganda is just one of many Rotary International charity projects they have been involved in and which the flower boxes are helping to fund.
“We are helping build water wells in Uganda which will give them easier access to water,” he said.
He said Fitchburg East “is a younger club” which was started in 1981 “by people who wanted to bring in more professionals, teachers, police, to accommodate the members in the evenings”. The club meets at Slattery’s Restaurant at 106 Lunenburg Street on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:15 p.m. It currently has 30 members and is growing.
“It’s a great organization,” Campbell said of Rotary, with which he has been involved for 22 years.
He said the flower project was the brainchild of one of the original club’s founders, who “saw that the city center needed to be livelier”. The club plants and maintains just under 100 flower boxes in the city, some of which moved to North Street this year, and they even bought a watering truck to water them.
“We take turns planting, and local schools and students help build the boxes and plants,” Campbell said. “It’s a community effort for a good cause to raise funds for us to donate to local charities. I always say, take care of your garden. We are definitely in need.
For more information about the flower project and the club, call Bill Walsh at 978-660-7364, visit fitchburgeastrotary.org and follow Fitchburg East Rotary on Facebook.