Fourteen “big ticket” items – with a total value of more than $6,500 – are now up for bid in an on-line auction, launched this week and running through March 17, 2021, that is part of the Presque Isle Rotary Club’s Great Big Give Back.

Auction items range from $3,000 toward a heat pump and hotel accommodations to college tuition certificates and tools.  The first lot will close during a Facebook Live event hosted by PI Rotarians on Wednesday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m., with the next lot closing one minute later, then the next lot one minute after that and so on. If a lot receives a bid in the last minute prior to its closing then that lot will be extended for one minute and not affect the closing of other lots.

The auction, hosted by Gregg Auctions and found on the Great Big Give Back link at www.presqueislerotary.org, brings a piece of the Club’s longstanding annual Rotary Auction into this pandemic-year alternative project.  A Great Big Basket raffle, and two other components focused on encouraging community members to give back by both pledging to shop local and volunteering time were started late last month, and also run through St. Patrick’s Day.

“We are very pleased with how our ticket sales for the Great Big Basket raffle have taken off in the first few weeks of sales. With community interest in this project so high, we are looking forward to having many bidders take part in our on-line auction,” said Chantal Pelletier, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Rachel Rice, are co-chairing the Great Big Give Back.

In addition “going live” with the on-line auction, PI Rotarians placed the impressive baskets filled with both purchased and donated gift certificates and merchandise, each valued at almost $2,000, on display in the window of the United Way of Aroostook office inside the Aroostook Centre Mall.  Photographs of the baskets, with a list of contents are also found on the Great Big Give Back link at www.presqueislerotary.org

The Great Big Gift Baskets include a mix of gift cards to local shops and restaurants, gift certificates for local services and recreational opportunities, electronics, fuel oil, gas cards, and more.  Each of the five gift baskets also includes a signature item like an iPad or a chainsaw, or a gaming chair. 

Tickets for the drawing are now available for purchase from members of the Presque Isle Rotary Club for $10 each.  Community members can also request tickets through the Great Big Give Back link on the Presque Rotary Club website and a Rotarian will follow-up to arrange for purchase and distribution.

“You don’t have to live in central Aroostook County to participate,” said Rice.  “Individuals from across Aroostook County, and even outside the region, have purchased tickets.  The baskets would make for one ‘lucky’ St. Patrick’s Day gift, or perhaps the best-ever Easter basket for a friend or loved one!”

Proceeds from the Great Big Give Back basket raffle and auction will support the Presque Isle Rotary Club Scholarship Fund, United Way of Aroostook’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and the 2021 Crown of Maine Balloon Fest and Northern Maine Fair, two major Presque Isle-based regional events that canceled their official 2020 activities because of the pandemic.

PI Rotarians are extending the Give Back component of the Great Big Give Back beyond the four entities receiving proceeds. Both area business and community organizations are supported through the effort.

In addition to their goal to raise $20,000 in ticket sales before St. Patrick’s Day, the service club is working toward getting 1,000 shop local pledges and 1,000 hours of pledged community service to local organizations in 2021.  On the Great Big Give Back site at www.presqueislerotary.org, visitors can click on the “shop local pledge” link at the top of the page and complete a pledge form to shop at one (or more) of the many small businesses in the local community.  A “service pledge” link on the same site allows community members to commit volunteer service hours to local organizations.  Another link provides individuals and organizations alike the opportunity to make an on-line donation to support the project efforts and Great Big Give Back proceed recipients.

For more information on the Presque Isle Rotary Club Great Big Give Back, contact project co-chairs Rachel Rice at rachel.rice@maine.edu or Chantal Pelletier at chantal.pelletier@mmgins.com.

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