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Rotary Club of Portola keeps busy serving the community

The Rotary Club of Portola has been staying busy with everything from programs at local schools to spreading holiday cheer, and wanted to take a moment to share a look at some of the several ways in which they have served the community in the last two years thanks to generous sponsors, despite the lack of ability to fundraise during the pandemic.

In the last two years, the Rotary Club of Portola has participated in kindergarten literacy, reading to kindergarten classes at C. Roy Carmichael Elementary (CRC) school throughout the year as well as donating books to each student and to the classrooms. The Rotary has also built an outdoor learning library and beautified the playground by planting garden beds, installing outdoor tables and benches where classes at CRC students now grow their own plants and perform science projects. In addition, there is a focus on teaching ethics, as each year the club works with second graders at CRC to perform a fun play about ethics and provide story books dealing with ethical problems to each student. Funds were also donated to the Portola Preschool, with $4,000 raised by the club to upgrade indoor and outdoor play equipment.

Co-Presidents Matt and Elizabeth Cruse (left holding check) present $4,000 to Rachel Brubaker (right holding check) for the Portola Preschool Coop. The money will provide much needed classroom equipment, supplies, and outdoor play equipment. This gift was made possible through generous community support of our Rotary Fly-in Pancake Breakfast fundraiser this past year.

The Rotary also has a keen focus on serving Eastern Plumas students in middle and high school, ensuring that each school year the Rotary provides books and leads book clubs for interested Junior & Senior Portola Junior/Senior High School (PJSHS) students. This year, the Rotary is funding the purchase of a video game program designed to help our students develop the critical thinking skills necessary to promote wise, informed decisions in their lives. PJSHS locker rooms have also seen an upgrade thanks to the clubs’ work on the renovation of the boys and girls locker rooms at PJSHS. The club also provided new chairs for the girls’ athletic team room. Students are also able to participate in the annual Rotary Speech & Music c.ontest. This is an annual event where students are invited to compete for cash awards, and the winners advance to the next round of competition.

The Rotary Club of Portola applauds the wonderful participation in their annual speech contest. Pictured left to right are Damien Manning, President Elizabeth Cruse, Tanner Low, Brandon Avalar, Tanner Carr, PHS Teacher Nieca Freeman, and Co-president Matt Cruse.

Rotary Club of Portola Co-Presidents Matt and Elizabeth Cruse also highlighted the anti-bullying work they have been engaged in at the high school, noting, “Last year we funded an extensive weeklong program called “Breaking Down the Walls” aimed at building understanding and respect in our High School in order to combat bullying.” The Cruses went on to explain that the rotary supports students attending annual youth leadership camps geared towards eighth grade and high school juniors. “We annually fund the camp tuition for five eighth grade students and up to four high school juniors allowing them to attend wonderful, very impactful leadership camps.  These students have returned to their classes as true leaders, making a big difference in our schools,” the Cruses said.

Outside of schools, the Rotary Club of Portola has made an impact with community events such as the annual Christmas community supper, where the club provides a very tasty and special turkey dinner to all our community, complete with a visit from Santa & a drawing for free bicycles, as well as putting together “Thanksgiving in a Box.” “We purchase the food and assemble 100 Thanksgiving dinners for local families in need – all boxed up for them to take home and celebrate together,” Matt Cruse explained.

Mr and Mrs Santa Claus paid a visit at the annual community supper in Portola for Christmas 2022! Little Oaklyn was quite pleased. Left to right are Rotarians Renee Hermann, Van VanDerveen, Sam Wilbanks, Rachelle Ramelli with little Oaklyn, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Doug McCoy and Kim Wilbanks. photo submitted

The club has also been busy supporting the local food bank, with the club providing 80 pounds of ground beef, packaged in two pound trays with the help of Leonard’s Market, to the Portola EPCAN food bank. “Additionally we provided 350 festive goodie packed bags to EPCAN, to help bring holiday smiles and cheer to our community,” Elizabeth Cruse smiled. “Yes, we have certainly been busy, and with your support, we will be able to continue great projects such as these. Thank you all so much!”  

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