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Rotary Club looks to make magic at gala fundraiser
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Make a little magic may be the theme of the Richmond Hill Rotary Club's annual banquet on March 3.

But the main theme is raising money to support the club’s community service projects, said club president Linda Messinger.

"All of these funds are used to fund our projects," Messinger said. "This is not to supplement the club. This is to do all the things we do in the community."

And the public is invited to chip in. Tickets are $100 each and include both the dinner and dance, which will include the music of the O’Kaysions.

A silent auction will take place throughout the night – among the items up for bid are golf packages at Harbortown, Hampton Island and Ford Plantation -- hunting trips, jewelry, art, wine and more.

"We have some really neat silent auction items," Messinger said. "And we will have a live auction of two or three really special items, lots of door prizes and a drawing near the end of the evening for a flat screen TV."

Locally, the group donates money for everything from principal’s funds for students who need supplies to senior citizens and the YMCA for scholarships.

The Richmond Hill Rotary Club also adopts two families for Christmas through Tara Jennings at Bryan County Family Connection and provides four-year partial scholarships to local college students.

So far, Ellen Cusimano, Ashley Kathleen Congdon, Jennifer Ann Boykin and Patricia Ann Collins are participating in the program, which began in 2003.

Cusimano is expected to graduate from Emory this year while Congdon is slated to finish at Georgia in 2008 and Boykin at Georgia in 2009. Collins is in her first year at Georgia Tech.

"These ladies are absolutely excellent students," said Charles Teel, who heads up community projects for the club.

He oversaw the group's outreach to the elderly. This year, roughly 55 senior citizens from both ends of Bryan County were treated to lunch in Richmond Hill. They also were given gift bags, a dinner out on Christmas Eve and a tour of Christmas lights in both Bryan and Chatham counties, Teel said.

"Hopefully people will support us with this little fundraiser," he said. "So we can just keep piling it right back in."

Messinger said the club’s projects amount to more than $20,000 each year.

And though approximately $16,000 of it is spent on local projects, the club also helps sponsor international students who attend college locally by working with four other area Rotary Clubs to sponsor one year’s worth of tuition.

This year the clubs are sponsoring Armstrong Atlantic student Jonathan Lowert from Denmark, according to Dr. Dana Kind, who heads up the Richmond Hill Rotary Club’s international projects. Next year they'll sponsor a student from Norway.

And while Rotary Club International is known for fighting polio, recent projects such as digging wells in Afghanistan have also gotten some area support.

"We look around to see what we can do to make an impact and make our choices through that," Kind said. "If we deem we have the money available, we go ahead and do some work if we can afford it."

The banquet begins at 7 p.m. at the Speir Brogdon Building in the Crossroads Center.

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