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Brunch a big success

| January 17, 2024 2:00 AM

The Christmas spirit was on display last month as the Columbia Falls Rotary Club kicked off the holiday season with its annual Brunch with Santa Dec. 2. Sponsorships and auction items donated by businesses and individuals, along with proceeds from a silent auction, raised more than $10,000 for the club, funds which will be returned to the community by way of projects and donations to other non-profit organizations. 

This was President Cliff Seiler’s first time at the annual BWS event. Seiler, a recent arrival to Columbia Falls and a former Rotarian from Delaware, Ohio, said he said was familiar with Rotary fundraising projects but was nearly overwhelmed by the community spirit, camaraderie and fun of this event, not to mention the organization and work of club members. 

“Everywhere you looked people were laughing and smiling, especially the children who went to see Santa and Mrs. Claus,” said Seiler. “The residents of Timber Creek also seemed to enjoy the festivities and food.” 

According to founding club member Roger Elliott, who is also the club’s secretary-treasurer, the event has steadily grown each year. 

“Everything raised goes right back to Columbia Falls and projects related to the club’s mission,” said Elliott, which includes supporting youth, fostering community and individual health and well-being, and recognizing our place in the world by supporting international projects, exchanges, and the eradication of polio. 

Timber Creek Village has hosted the event since 2012. “We could not do this without their willingness to open up their lunch room, common spaces and even their kitchen where volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 1941 cooked and served pancakes,” said Elliott. Food and equipment was also provided by the Nite Owl, Three Forks Grille, Tien’s Place, Laurie’s Deli, Columbia Falls Subway, Hanson’s Hardware, and Jean Flynn with Prairie Girl Pies.  

Corporate donations totaled $4,500 with Glacier Bank, Freedom Bank and Whitefish Credit Union at the top of the list of the dozen donors giving funds in support of the event and the club’s on-going projects. “As much if not more money was raised from 53 community businesses and individuals who provided goods and services for the silent auction,” said Barb Strouse, who oversees that part of the event. Strouse and Elliot are the two remaining original club members from 2006 when the local club was organized.  

“Brunch with Santa was on hiatus for two years in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. But its return in 2022, and again this year, has revealed not only the community’s interest in the event but its support for it and the Club’s projects with generous donations,” said Seiler. “Stay tuned,” he said, “as this year we hope the event will set another record for sharing. 

“And come join us,” he added. The club meets the first and third Wednesdays at noon in the Backroom of the Nite Owl. 

However, Seiler noted that in an effort to grow membership, this coming Wednesday, Jan. 17, the club is trying an evening meeting at the Backroom of the Nite Owl, starting at 6 p.m. New Columbia Falls School Superintendent Cory Dziowgo will be the presenter. Anyone is welcome to attend. The only cost to do so is the for the meal should attendees wish to eat.

The Columbia Falls Rotary

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