The Rotary Club of Saipan held its annual Christmas party underneath the stars at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan on Friday, during which the civic group turned over the initial batch of toys it collected from its members to the Salvation Army.
Salvation Army pastor Wayne Gillespie thanked Rotary for the early Christmas present and said all the toys will be given to children under the auspices of the Division of Youth Services.
He also appealed to the community to find it in their hearts to donate more toys to the Salvation Army.
“We’re asking for unwrapped gifts for children of all age ranges from infants all the way to 18 years old. We would like to remind folks to remember the older kids. Sometimes in toy drives we remember to buy toys for the young kids but we don’t remember to buy toys for the older kids,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie, who is the sergeant-at-arms of the local Rotary, also said that donors for their toy drive can drop off their donations at the Bank of Hawaii branches in Susupe and in Puerto Rico.
“What you just do is drop the unwrapped toys at the Bank of Hawaii and slide them under the Christmas trees—the Angel Trees—that are already set up in their lobbies.”
He also reminded everyone that the Salvation Army is also accepting cash donations for its toy drive.
“The reason for that is it gives us more flexibility. Often at the end of the toy drive, it’s inevitable that we will find ourselves short of gifts for certain genders and certain ages. So if folks donate cash we will have the cash to go out and buy toys to make up the shortfalls.”
Last year, the Salvation Army was able to provide two to three toys each to more than 20 children.
Rotary president Laila Y. Boyer said she’s really glad that Rotarians were able to donate anew in this year’s toy drive of the Salvation Army.
“It’s not finished, though, as we will be collecting until next week. We will probably wrap it up by the end of next week and hand it over to the Salvation Army,” she said.
Boyer also thanked the close to 30 Rotary members and their guests that attended the group’s Christmas party held at the newly opened Isla poolside bar.
Two Interact Club members also received Interact Club pins from Youth Services director Ivan Ilimov during the Christmas party.
Ilimov said he asked a friend from Russia who is also a former Interact Club member to send pins to Saipan, that’s why he was able to give Interact Club president Doreen Duenas and secretary Magdiel Corpuz the pins Saturday night.
In a short speech, Duenas thanked Rotary for chartering an Interact Club at the Marianas High School. She said she joined the organization because she likes helping the community.
For his part, Corpus said joining the Interact Club complements his membership in MHS’ Youth Advisory Panel.