The Presque Isle Rotary Club’s Great Big Give Back is back – with a St. Patrick’s Day drawing set for the even more impressive Great Big Basket raffle, and the addition of a big ticket item on-line auction.

The project, initiated last fall, was postponed to the New Year after the overwhelmingly positive response and generous outpouring of support by area businesses and organizations had coordinators look to expand the effort and extend the timeline. 

The relaunched Great Big Give Back will feature a Great Big Basket raffle of five impressive baskets filled with both purchased and donated gift certificates and merchandise, each valued at almost $2,000.  The dollar value of items is nearly double the initially announced $1,000 gift baskets organizers had hoped to promote. 

Along with the raffle, PI Rotarians have set aside 14 “big ticket” items – with a total value of more than $6,500 – that will bring a piece of the Club’s annual Rotary Auction into this pandemic-year alternative project.  The overall activity will also move forward, as previously planned with two other components focused on encouraging community members to give back by both pledging to shop local and volunteering time.

“Even with all we are facing in light of the pandemic, we are all so fortunate to be part of an amazing community. The generosity and giving spirit of the people of The County was in full display when we initiated the Great Big Give Back last fall, so much so that we are able to expand our efforts,” said Rachel Rice, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Chantal Pelletier, are co-chairing this unique auction replacement event. “So, at the start of a New Year, that we all hope holds great promise, we have retooled and relaunched this project.  Our sights are set on engaging the community in purchasing tickets, bidding in the mini-auction and pledging their efforts to supporting our great community through St. Patrick’s Day - March 17th, a day well-known for celebrating luck and good fortune!”

The Great Big Give Back 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.  Photos are available for virtual viewing on-line by clicking on the “Great Big Give Back” link on the website www.presqueislerotary.org. Baskets will also be on display in the windows of the United Way of Aroostook office inside the Aroostook Centre Mall.

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.

In the coming weeks, the website will also feature a Big Ticket Mini-Auction, linked to the Gregg Auctions website www.greggauctions.com, with 14 higher valued items exceeding $6,500 in total value.  Items up for auction range from $3,000 toward a heat pump and hotel accommodations to college tuition certificates and tools.  The auction opens on Feb. 17 and runs until March 17, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.  It will close just prior to the live, on-line ticket draw event for the Great Big Gift Baskets.

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 Festival 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 our goal to raise $20,000 in ticket sales before St. Patrick’s Day, we are working toward getting 1,000 shop local pledges and 1,000 hours of pledged community service to local organizations in 2021,” said Pelletier.  “COVID-19 has created some incredible challenges for our local businesses and non-profit organizations who rely on the support of local volunteers.  As Rotarians with a motto of ‘Service Above Self,’ we recognize the critical importance of pulling together as a community, especially at such a challenging time.”

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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