Photo courtesy of Dakota Grenier

On Saturday, Nov. 3, the University of Rhode Island’s Rotaract organization raised 800 pounds of food for the Jonnycake Center, a charity in Peace Dale, Rhode Island.

From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., members of URI Rotaract stood outside Belmont Market in Wakefield, Rhode Island with a list of food items that are needed and sold inside. The members of the organization would ask customers to purchase one or more of those items to donate to those in need during the upcoming holiday season.

URI Rotaract worked with the Jonnycake Center to raise food for people in need. Founded in 1974, the Jonnycake Center is a place dedicated to serving those in need and doing what they can to better the lives of those less fortunate. Last year, the two raised around 500 pounds of food during the event.

URI Rotaract is an international service organization in partnership with the Wakefield Rotary club. President Dakota Grenier described it as hard-working students who are passionate about giving back.
“We’re just a bunch of student leaders who like service and we come together and try and serve our community,” Grenier said.

Grenier and her vice president, Joy Norris, spent time thinking about charitable events for this holiday season. Overall, they were very satisfied with how the event turned out, not only for the community but for its members as well.

“Before going out and doing the event, we talked about lots of different kinds of service and what that could mean,” Norris said. “This was our first real event going out into the community and doing something for them. It was great for our members to see what we are doing and visually see the amount of food we collected together. It helps to know that we are making a difference in the community and in other people’s lives in this area.”

Norris and Grenier have noticed growth in URI Rotaract from when they first joined the club in their first year. “Our organization has grown a ton this year,” Grenier said. “When we first were there, it was a group of around 8-12 people. There wasn’t much structure to the meetings. Seeing the continued growth and impact that we have been able to make has been amazing. Our members are so awesome, dedicated and passionate. It’s refreshing.”

“It’s not only the growth of the number of people who are participating in Rotaract,” Norris said. “It’s also the growth of wanting to do more service and more dedication and more people who just genuinely want to do service. It’s really great.”

URI Rotaract has more events planned in the coming weeks. In partnership with Children’s Friend, an organization founded in Providence, URI Rotaract has urged different student organizations and departments of URI to sponsor families in need. In addition, they will be sponsoring item drives and provide gifts to less fortunate families. “We’ve absorbed the spirit of giving down here at URI,” Grenier said. “We are trying to continue and grow a campus-wide initiative of the spirit of giving.”

The motto of URI Rotaract is simple: “Service Above Self.” Grenier and Norris want people to know that giving is what they’re all about and they want to attract those who just want to give to those in need.

“This organization is for anybody who has the spirit to go out and serve whether it be something small or something that you don’t think would be helping somebody but in reality, it can help somebody,” Norris said.

Grenier said that being part of the club is focusing on the smaller ways to volunteer and contribute to community service as well.

“Service can take on so many different facets and can be done in so many different ways,” Grenier said. “That’s something that we try and focus on. Service does not have to be this big elaborate spirit of giving or this huge 800 pounds of food. It also is just being a good friend, smiling at strangers going across the quad, holding the door for people. Those little things add up. That is service.”