Last year, the Rotary Club of Troutman helped provide Christmas gifts for more than 90 local children and families in need.
The club raised more than $8,000 to buy gifts with its annual Pancake Breakfast with Santa fundraiser. Members hope to match that with this year's event, planned for Dec. 10.
"With your help, proceeds will benefit children within our community in need of a little holiday cheer throughout the year," according to a news release from the club.
Children nominated by staff members of schools in Troutman and Statesville provide wish lists to the Rotary Club. The club also provides gifts for siblings of nominated students. In the past they have given gift cards for the benefit of whole families, as well.
This year, the list of children is being collected by club members Mark Vaughn, a behavior specialist at the alternative Monticello School in Statesville, and Jeff James, principal of Troutman Middle School. Many of the students nominated come from alternative schools in the area, live in shelters or live at Barium Springs Home for Children.
"The most heartbreaking thing is to read the 'wish lists.' You'd expect iPods or X-Boxes; instead, the children ask for underwear, socks and winter coats," said Linda DiTrolio, the club's president-elect. "We always try to get a treat for each child, something they'll enjoy along with the clothing they so desperately need."
Club members recall that when they dropped off one set of gifts last year, the young man who received them was shocked that the whole pile was for him. The Rotarians are moved by the gratitude they receive when delivering the gifts.
This year's Pancake Breakfast with Santa will be the third for the club. The first year, it attracted more than 300 people.
Club president Geoff Bowen said the event "was incredibly well-received the first year." The second year, attendance doubled to around 600 people.
This year, the club has added another element to the event. It will have collection boxes for donations of toys and nonperishable food items to add to baskets for the families or to be donated to soup kitchens.
The breakfast will be from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Dec. 10 at Troutman Elementary School, 220 S. Main St. Santa will be there to meet and take photos with everyone. Members of the Rotary Club of Troutman will cook pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage and will provide an assortment of drinks.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for ages 6-12. Children younger than 6 eat free.
Event sponsors include the businesses and organizations of Rotary Club members, such as the law offices of Bill Baitry Jr. PLLC, Watermark Church and Sovereign Investment Group.
The Rotary Club of Troutman was started in October 2008 and became an officially chartered club in 2009. When the club started, members chose to focus both local and international efforts on helping children, according to Bowen. At the time, four local school principals were part of the club.
The Pancake Breakfast with Santa is one effort to serve the children and families of the Troutman community. Paula Curry, the club's public relations chairman, calls it "a great outreach program."
"It's a huge undertaking, as you can imagine, but we shop, box, wrap and deliver the gifts ourselves," said DiTrolio. " ... With God's help, and the support of all who buy tickets to the Pancake Breakfast, Santa is alive and well and living at the Rotary Club of Troutman!"
For advance tickets to the Pancake Breakfast, call 704-230-0050. Tickets also will be available at the door.
To learn more about the Rotary Club of Troutman, visit www.troutmanrotary.org.