West Seattle, Washington
Still think Santa Claus just shows up in the middle of the night? On this day every year – the first Saturday in December – hundreds of Santas rise very early, not to drop off gifts and fly away, but to escort local kids through a wonderland of dining and shopping, during the Rotary Club of West Seattle-organized Children’s Shopping Spree.
Southcenter Mall was the location again this year, since it has the nearest Sears, fourth Shopping Spree since the old location in SODO closed. Organizers and volunteers gathered long before dawn, getting their instructions from Rotarian Josh Sutton:
They cheered for each group of kids arriving on school buses from West Seattle:
More arrivals! The kids get a fun morning plus practical presents – new coats, shoes, etc. pic.twitter.com/CFPEYlNuV3
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 2, 2017
Pairs of volunteers are matched with kids:
And it’s off to breakfast:
Some shopping happens inside Sears.
Some, at tables stacked with socks and coats:
The gifts are bought via Rotary donations and fundraisers. And the time given by members and volunteers is priceless. Some of the groups represented this morning included Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Kappa Alpha Psi, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Upsilon Omega, Omega Delta Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, and UW Rotaract. Even Seattle Lutheran High School basketball players!
And as noted on the Rotary page featuring the history of the Shopping Spree – which goes back 45 years! – school administrators and counselors are a big part of the morning’s success too. Schools represented this year included Lafayette, Roxhill, Concord, Genesee Hill elementaries, and Pathfinder K-8.
By Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
The Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s weekly meeting today wasn’t just a luncheon, it was a party – 70th-anniversary party, to be specific.
The club was chartered in November 1947.
One of the club’s most prominent members, King County Executive Dow Constantine – who’s on today’s ballot, running for a third term – read a proclamation declaring this “Rotary Club of West Seattle’s 70th Anniversary Day” in King County, and urged all in King County to thank the club for its seven decades of service:
The club currently meets at the Alki Masonic Center in The Junction, and according to the around-the-room introductions, today’s celebration drew guests including representatives of other Rotary Clubs around the area as well as former members.
Featured speaker was Clay Eals, a journalist, author, historian, community advocate, and more, who recently left as executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
If you are, or know, a 10th- or 11th-grader who’s interested in leadership in their school and community – here’s a chance for free training. The Rotary Club of West Seattle is accepting applications for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, which covers the costs of an annual seminar March 16-19 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, described as “taught by leadership experts and directed at teens in high school. Fully chaperoned, meals included. … Great addition to a college application.” For questions and/or an application, e-mail West Seattle Rotary president Dr. Susanne Gee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long before dawn, Christmas arrived early for almost 100 local kids, thanks to about 200 volunteer Santas turning the annual Rotary Club of West Seattle Children’s Shopping Spree from plan to reality:
Cheers and high-fives as the first kids, from Arbor Heights Elem, arrive for Rotary Shopping Spree pic.twitter.com/XZITUuAXwF
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 3, 2016
First to arrive, kids from Arbor Heights Elementary, a few minutes before 7 am. The Rotarians had just finished a rousing briefing for volunteers before the first bus pulled up at Southcenter, where the Shopping Spree had to move starting in 2014, after the SODO Sears shut down.
Kids from five schools are participating this year – along with AHES, they are from Highland Park, Sanislo, and West Seattle Elementaries, and Louisa Boren STEM K-8. Each one is paired with a volunteer to share breakfast – this year, at BJ’s Restaurant – before the “spree,” which focuses on practical items like coats and shoes.
As the first group settled down to breakfast, the second arrived, from WSES, also to raucous cheers:
Second group, from West Seattle Elementary. Spree moved to Southcenter in 2014 after SODO Sears shut down. pic.twitter.com/JQz7BbuRPl
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 3, 2016
They were followed by Sanislo, STEM, and Highland Park, the last group to be greeted, as the sky just outside the mall entrance brightened to gray. Volunteers and students got to know each other as they paired off and headed to breakfast. “What grade are you in?” was the icebreaker question heard time and again.
Following breakfast, shopping time.
Here’s Arbor Heights principal Christy Collins helping supervise:
And just as that got going, we had a Santa Claus sighting:
Santa arrives at West Seattle Rotary Shopping Spree. pic.twitter.com/aqBULBk5w0
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 3, 2016
A chat and pic with St. Nick is part of the plan too:
West Seattle Rotary raises money for this each year through a variety of events including a benefit breakfast featuring a guest speaker (this year, weather analyst Cliff Mass). And the volunteer help, from within the club ranks as well as other groups around the region, is priceless. The groups/businesses participating today included:
The Shopping Spree continues on into the morning, with Santa visits and more, and memories that will last a long time – for the adults as well as the kids who are going home with much-needed gifts.
The Rotary Club of West Seattle drew about 200 people to its annual fundraising breakfast this morning at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). This year’s keynote speaker is well-known to weather-watchers in particular: Cliff Mass, described on the program as “University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and renowned Seattle weather prognosticator/personality.” We photographed him with incoming West Seattle Rotary president Dr. Susanne Gee:
Mass has often said he’s not a forecaster, but more of an analyst. And as those at today’s event heard, he’s outspoken on a variety of related topics, including no love lost for some news media’s tendency to engage in hyperbole related to weather events. He also talked about what he sees for the Pacific Northwest in terms of climate change – including more rain, less snow, between now and 2050, but no “dramatic” increase in temperature until later this century. You can find him online here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
That speech today at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor) brought him full circle, Bryant said, because he announced his Port Commission run at nearby Jack Block Park in 2006.
His run for governor, by contrast, was announced online. And here’s our video of what he told the Rotary Club today:
Bryant delivered more of a valedictory for his 8 years on the commission than a speech looking ahead to what he would hope to do as governor. He said he ran on a platform that eventually spanned four key points:
On this cold, wet night, about 100 West Seattle kids are keeping warm thanks to the Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s annual Holiday Shopping Spree. Local Rotarians and hundreds of volunteers take over Southcenter Sears before dawn to get the kids in for warm clothing including coats and shoes.
And there’s always fun along the way – including a round of high-fives:
The high-fives accompanied a loud round of cheers for each group of kids to arrive – see for yourself in our video!
Each child was accompanied by volunteers as they shopped for what they needed.
The young participants also got a meal and a visit with Santa Claus before they headed back this way – and smiles invariably result, for the volunteers as well as the kids:
West Seattle Rotarians have been doing this since 1972 – it’s the club’s signature event. The students participating this year were from Concord, Gatewood, Lafayette, Pathfinder, and Roxhill.
(WSB photo, December 2014)
Every year in early December, the Rotary Club of West Seattle brings holiday gifts and fun to about a hundred local students in need via its annual Children’s Shopping Spree. The rest of the year, the club has other events and donation drives to raise money for its charitable projects, including the spree. You’re invited to be part of a fall fundraiser that’s now just eight days away:
Saturday, October 24, 2015, the Rotary Club of West Seattle will host its 2nd annual Oktoberfest from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Alki Masonic Hall, 4736 40th Ave SW. Free parking is available in the lot adjacent to the hall.
The festivities will include German & local microbrew BEER, authentic German FOOD, an Oompah BAND, and a RAFFLE.
Net proceeds from the event will be used to support the Club’s charitable projects. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased (must be age 21 or older) on the Club’s website.
It’s one of the most fun nights of (almost-)fall for Rotary Club of West Seattle members … the back-to-school sorting party for Pencil Me In For Kids, their signature charity distributing donated school supplies to local students. As Rotarians and friends gathered Wednesday night in a Westwood backyard, they knew that every local elementary has kids getting a boost from PMIFK (that was noted at this week’s Rotary meeting). Member or not, you can help too, through PMIFK – here’s how.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The U.S. Navy‘s presence in the Northwest – and much of the rest of the world – is vital, on a planet where 80 percent of all people live close to oceans or other waterways, and 90 percent of the world’s trade goes by water.
That’s what Rear Admiral Jeff Ruth, commander of Navy Region Northwest, told the Rotary Club of West Seattle this afternoon, as guest speaker at their weekly lunch. This region, in particular, he noted, is reliant on those trade routes, and in turn on the security provided by the Navy.
The turnout filled the lower meeting room at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). The admiral’s resume – detailed here – includes two years commanding the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. And his speech was far more global than local.
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
School’s out – and some are looking ahead to the next stage of their education, like the seven students to whom the Rotary Club of West Seattle awarded scholarships today – Student of the Month and Gambriell scholarships totaling $15,500. We stopped by the Rotary lunch meeting to photograph the students who were there to accept them – from left, Julia Nark (Career Link), Tin Vo (West Seattle High School), Caprice Villeza (West Seattle HS), Naeem Ghodsian (Career Link), and Joey Werlech (now a Central Washington University student); recipients not pictured are Brisa Mendez-Alvarez (Chief Sealth International High School) and Carolina Sayuri Sasai (Seattle Lutheran). The club explains, “The Students of the Month program honors outstanding students in West Seattle (area) high-school programs selected by their school counselors. Each year all Students of the Month are encouraged to apply for the available scholarships. Also every year, the club awards two or three Gambriell Scholarships based on financial need and academic merit to graduating West Seattle-area seniors who apply and might not otherwise be able to attend college.”
A Rotarian with extra reason to smile about all this is Len Burton-Hardin:
Starting next month, he’ll be in charge of the club’s vocational/educational outreach.
P.S. The next big West Seattle Rotary-sponsored event, the WS Grand Parade, is now just one month away – Saturday, July 18th!
The Rotary Club of West Seattle was up extra-early today for a special occasion – a breakfast event at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor). At right above is Jim Edwards, honored by the Rotary with the Paul Harris Fellow award, named after Rotary’s founder. Jim’s long history of community service includes coordinating the West Seattle Grand Parade, which is now presented by the Rotary. He accepted the award with his daughter Michelle Edwards, who works with him on the parade, as does Dave Vague, at left, honored by the Rotary last year. (One of the other things for which you might know Jim right now is the West Seattle Big Band, which donates its earnings to student programs.) This year’s parade, by the way, is coming up fast – Saturday, July 18th, from The Admiral District to The Junction as always.
Rotarians also heard from King County Executive Dow Constantine this morning:
The centerpiece of his talk was his new initiative, Best Starts for Kids, announced in his recent State of the County address as a plan to “provide the resources needed to prevent negative outcomes in the community and put every child on a path toward lifelong success.” Its components include mental-health and developmental screenings and a host of other services aimed at the notion that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Voters will be asked to approve a levy to fund it. Early childhood is a subject not only important to Constantine as a leader but also as a parent, and he noted that daughter Sabrina is about to turn 1.
Less than three weeks till your chance to break your breakfast routine and support nonprofits by having breakfast with the Rotary Club of West Seattle and special guest:
King County Executive (and West Seattle Rotarian) Dow Constantine will speak at the West Seattle Rotary Club’s annual Fundraising Breakfast at Salty’s on May 5, 2015, 7-9 am. Go to the club website for more information and to register.
The Rotary Club of West Seattle supports local projects including Pencil Me In For Kids, the Children’s Shopping Spree, Students of the Month, the Kiddie Parade, and the Grand Parade.
(WSB photo of Executive Constantine from March 28th dedication of M/V Sally Fox on Vashon Island)
This is the time of year when most college applications are in and students await acceptance letters. Then there’s the matter of how to pay for college. The Rotary Club of West Seattle is inviting applications right now for its annual Gambriell Scholarships, awarded to two or three local graduating seniors:
Here are the requirements:
· Available to any graduating high school senior student.
· Based on financial need and academic merit.
· Student would not otherwise be able to attend college without these funds.
· Preference given to West Seattle residents.
This year each recipient will receive $3,000 to $5,000, depending on number of recipients.
· Funds must be used on tuition and fees to accredited post-secondary educational programs.
The deadline for applications is fast approaching: April 15th, 2015. Recipients will be chosen by April 30th, 2015. Please e-mail Dotty Hughes, email@example.com, for an application. Applications may be returned by email, given to any West Seattle Rotarian, or mailed to the address on the application form.
The Rotary Club of West Seattle utilizes five avenues of service: Club, Vocational, International, New Generations and Community. The club’s foundation board (West Seattle Rotary Service Foundation) allocates funding annually to each avenue of service for projects. The Gambriell Scholarship is one of the Community Service projects of the club.
(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
He sees you when you’re sleeping … he sees when you’re awake …” The all-seeing Santa can even see you when you’re smiling right behind him. So went the holiday joy this morning during the Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s annual Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree – which had one big change this year:
It happened bright and early this morning at Sears in Southcenter – after many years at Sears in SODO, which closed earlier this year, requiring the Rotarians to find someplace new to bring the dozens of students who would spend the morning shopping with volunteers.
It’s a huge effort to organize – so the Rotarians are joined by many other volunteers, including other service organizations, like the Omega Psi Phi fraternity:
Participating kids also get to dine during the spree, and Southcenter’s Rainforest Café stepped up to help with that:
That’s Rotarian Dave Nichols with one of the café mascots. As always, kids went home with new wintertime wear, to be sure they’ll stay warm:
And they’ll remember warm smiles, like that of Rotarian Tara Luckie:
The club has fundraisers throughout the year to pay for the annual Shopping Spree – here’s how to donate.
And if you’re interested in checking out Rotary membership, stop by one of their weekly lunch meetings, usually noon Tuesdays at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor).
Three weeks from today, right about this time in the afternoon, dozens and dozens of local kids will be returning home with many reasons to smile after the annual Rotary Club of West Seattle Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree. In addition to raising money and organizing volunteers for this year’s spree – the 43rd! – the West Seattle Rotary had one more big task: Find a new location – since SODO Sears was closing, as announced in February. They’ve found one, and this year, when the shopping spree – which also involves food, music, and Santa – starts bright and early Saturday, December 6th, it’ll be happening at Sears (and Rainforest Café) in Southcenter. You can contribute to help cover the costs – there’s a link on this page of the Rotary website.
While covering the “walkshed” tour in The Junction/Triangle this morning (story to come), we stopped by the Masonic Center to peek at preps for the Rotary Club of West Seattle‘s first-ever Oktoberfest, one of the events in our preview for today/tonight. Above, Rotarians Len Burton-Hardin of Howden-Kennedy and Dotty Hughes of Washington Federal were working inside; the crew decorating outside included Gary Potter of Potter Construction (WSB sponsor):
The German food and beer, oompah music, etc. are all set to start around 6 tonight. Proceeds benefit the Rotary’s community work including the annual – not too far off! Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree and the school-supplies-collecting Pencil Me In For Kids. Ticket info for tonight’s event is here.
The Rotary Club of West Seattle is now selling tickets for its first-ever Oktoberfest. Everyone (21 and up) is invited to the celebration, 6 pm Saturday, October 11th, at Alki Masonic Center in The Junction – from the announcement: “Come enjoy a Bavarian evening complete with German and local microbrew beer, authentic German food, Oompah band, and a raffle. Bavarian dress encouraged. … Oktoberfest is a fundraiser to support the West Seattle Rotary Club’s community projects: Annual Children’s Shopping Spree; Rotary First Harvest; Pencil Me In For Kids.” Go here to get your ticket(s)!
Thanks to Josh Sutton from the Rotary Club of West Seattle for the photo from an annual late-summer tradition – the sorting party for school-supplies donations collected and obtained by Pencil Me In For Kids. In the heart of the activity at Monday night’s event, that’s Sue Lindblom waving, and Cathy Rouyer talking with her. Josh adds that overall, “More than a dozen West Seattle Rotarians sorted over $9,000 in school supplies destined for students in need from every West Seattle public school. Thanks to Staples and to QFC for their discounts and support of Rotary Pencil Me In For Kids.” P.S. PMIFK has been getting school supplies to kids who need them for almost 20 years! Here’s how to help.
GF asked about this in a comment today, so in case anyone else wondered too: The Rotary Club of West Seattle is no longer selling berries as a summertime fundraiser. Past president Len Burton-Hardin explains:
Our club made the painful decision to discontinue this fundrasiser after 30 years. Lack of a venue with refrigeration facilities, rising costs to us and the unpredictability of Mother Nature and the growing season made it very hard for us. We are very grateful to our supporters and are saddened that we couldn’t not continue, The positive is that our numerous local Farmers’ Markets provide high-quality berries for West Seattle residents.
(We can attest to that, having seen fresh-picked berries at the WS Farmers’ Market today, and also at local grocery stores.) The Rotary has added two new endeavors – as you’ve probably heard by now, it’s presenting the West Seattle Grand Parade starting this year (July 19th!), and it’s also sponsoring a first-ever Oktoberfest celebration, October 11th at the Masonic Center (watch for details).
(Husky Deli proprietor Jack Miller with, at right, Teri Templin of the Rotary Foundation)
Congratulations to four people recently honored by the Rotary Club of West Seattle. Club spokesperson George Brinkmann shares the info and photos:
Jack Miller, the proprietor of the Husky Deli, was recognized with a Paul Harris Fellow award as an outstanding local businessman. He has long supported local Rotary project fundraisers. The Husky Deli opened for business in 1932. Jack is the third generation to operate the family-owned business, which features ice cream, catering, lunch, and groceries.
(L to R, Dave Vague and John Fretz)
Dave Vague and John Fretz also received Paul Harris Fellow recognition. For many years, Vague has volunteered as a coordinator of the West Seattle Grand Parade, to be held on July 19th this year. Fretz is an employee of Salty’s on Alki who has ably served Rotary luncheon meetings for more than 5 years.
The Paul Harris Fellow award, named after the founder of Rotary, was established in 1957 to recognize individuals for whom contributions have been made to the Rotary Foundation in support of its charitable projects around the world, including the eradication of Polio. The Rotary Club of West Seattle made contributions to honor these three individuals.
(Aya Hoffman with RC of WS past president Len Burton-Hardin)
Aya Hoffman, President of the West Seattle-Burien Rotaract Club, received the Service Above Self Award, given annually to that person believed to best exemplify Rotary’s motto: ‘Service Above Self.’ Aya has volunteered her time and talent to serve as President of the West Seattle-Burien Rotaract Club for young adults ages 18 to 32 since its inception in 2012. She is the Communications and Events Manager at the Alexander Hamilton Friends Association in Seattle.
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
Congratulations to the scholarship winners honored by the Rotary Club of West Seattle at this week’s meeting! Above, the Students of the Year – all graduating seniors chosen from the “Students of the Month” announced throughout the year – from left, Elliott Snodgrass from Chief Sealth International High School, Mariel Smith from West Seattle High School, and Robert Leslie from Seattle Lutheran High School. Next, the three recipients of the Gambriell Scholarship:
From left, they are: Martha Girma from WSHS, Joseph Werlech from Kennedy High School, and Tomas Woldemichael from WSHS. Each spring, the Rotary invites applications for the Gambriell Scholarships; meantime, the selection of Students of the Month is explained here.
College can be costly. Here’s potential help: The Rotary Club of West Seattle is offering scholarship money again this year. Here’s the announcement:
Continuing Education of our young people is such an important resource that every year the Rotary of West Seattle awards Scholarships to two or three graduating West Seattle Seniors towards their college education.
The deadline for applications is fast approaching, so if you know a deserving West Seattle Senior please visit our website to fill out the application. It is open to any senior student in the West Seattle area.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
Ahead, the requirements and details: