The Star-Herald

PI Rotary turns 73rd auction into ‘Great Big Give Back’ to support community

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The impact of the global pandemic on the local community, especially area businesses, has prompted the Presque Isle Rotary Club to do something very different with its 73rd annual auction.  

The Great Big Give Back will provide Rotarians and community members the opportunity to support local businesses and organizations as well as four great community causes.

Instead of the traditional solicitation of local businesses for donations that are auctioned to the highest bidder, the club will buy $5,000 in items from those businesses that donated to its largest fundraiser in both 2018 and 2019.  With the purchased items, Rotarians will create five Great Big gift baskets, valued at $1,000 each. Tickets for the gift baskets will be sold for $10 each, with proceeds from the raffle going to the Rotary Scholarship Fund, the United Way of Aroostook’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and the 2021 Crown of Maine Balloon Fest and Northern Maine Fair.

 “We knew this was not the year to do our traditional auction because of the many impacts COVID-19 has had on our community, but we wanted to do something to help and that’s how the idea for the Great Big Give Back was born,” said Rachel Rice, who along with fellow Presque Isle Rotarian Chantal Pelletier, are co-chairing this year’s unique auction replacement event. 

“As part of this very unique fundraiser during a very unique year, we’re asking people to join us in giving back to our community in three important ways: to give money through our raffle and monetary donations, to give support by shopping local, and to give time through community service pledges. This event is truly about giving back and we’re inviting everyone in our community to participate,” Rice said.

Rotarians are now purchasing and collecting the items to create the gift baskets.  The five prize packages will be posted on the club’s website,, for the start of ticket sales on Sept. 25.  

Tickets will be sold online through the Rotary Club website through the date of the big drawing on Nov. 20.  

Tickets will also be available at Graves Shop ‘n Save and Bike, Board and Ski in Presque Isle, as well as from individual Presque Isle Rotarians.

Rotarians are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of shopping local and engagement by giving back to our community, especially at this time.

“‘Service Above Self’ is the motto that Rotarians live by.  It defines who we are and what we believe in.  We want to make our community even stronger during these unprecedented times and provide different ways for people to support The Great Big Give Back,” Pelletier said.

“In addition to fundraising efforts through basket ticket sales, we encourage our fellow community members to pledge community service hours and pledge to shop locally.  In all, this project provides three unique ways to ‘Give Back’ to the communities that we love and support,” she said.

The traditional Rotary Auction has seen significant changes in recent years that have included different formats and media outlets.  The one constant and critical factor behind the auction’s success, over more than seven decades, has been the support of local businesses, community organizations and bidders.

“For 72 years businesses and organizations in our community have generously supported our annual auction, allowing us to provide humanitarian service, build goodwill and improve quality of life,” said Rotary President Sarah Ennis.

“Now it is time for us to be the inspiration and give back to them during these unprecedented and challenging times.  We couldn’t be the club we are or have made the difference we have made without them, and we hope this year we can show our appreciation through this new approach,” Ennis said.

For more information on the Presque Isle Rotary Club Great Big Give Back, contact Rice at or Pelletier at

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