Thursday, December 31, 2020

Friendly rivalry

Kiwanis, Rotary clubs compete for Salvation Army contributions

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Plymouth Township Trustee John Stewart, left, and Supervisor 
Kurt Heise ring bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle 
campaign Dec. 11 at the Plymouth Kroger store.  No totals 
as to the winner of the decade-long rivalry between 
the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs as to which collected
 more during the holiday effort.
On Monday, Dec. 21, staff and volunteers of the Wayne-Westland Salvation Army had their fingers crossed - and prayers in abundance too.

The corps, serving the cities of Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Romulus and New Boston, set a $130,000 fundraising goal this Christmas season. Envoy Andrew Barylski noted this year fundraising is down.

“People are not as willing to get out and bell ring” as in the past, Barylski said. Donations by check, cash or money order payable to The Salvation Army remain more than welcome, taken to or sent to: 2300 S. Venoy Road, Westland, MI 48186. The corps is south of Palmer Road on the west side of Venoy.

“People have been generous. We're going to make every effort to raise the dollars,” he said. The in-person Red Kettle portion of bell ringing always wraps up Dec. 24.

Donations are also still being taken at the Plymouth corps of The Salvation Army, which serves Plymouth, Canton, Northville and Belleville. 

The Rotary Club of Plymouth Noon and Plymouth Kiwanis Club have for years volunteered as bell ringers for the Plymouth corps. Each service club took a Friday-Saturday December weekend, vying to see if Rotary or Kiwanis could raise more money.

“I always do it every year. A little camaraderie. We see a lot of nice people. It's a fun time,” said Tony Bruscato, who directs the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority.

Maj. Keith Bailey of the Plymouth Salvation Army said the corps kettle goal is $185,000 this year, with donations via check encouraged at the 9451 S. Main St., Plymouth, MI 48170 office. Checks there should be made out to: Plymouth Salvation Army.

Of the Kiwanis-Rotary “rivalry,” Bailey notes: “It has been great for the corps. I am amazed at the amount of money both clubs raise for the Plymouth corps. Sometimes it can be a huge percentage of the total goal. This year especially, with  25 percent or a little better of the total of $185,000. You can see how important this friendly competition is,” Bailey added. 

John Buzuvis, community development director for the city of Plymouth, is Rotary Club of Plymouth Noon president. He said, “It adds up to a fun kind of cordial competition. It's been a friendly competition for a great cause for lots of years.”

The Kiwanis-Rotary tradition is likely some 20 years old, and Buzuvis noted among Plymouth City Hall department heads there are both Kiwanians and Rotarians. Some even like to razz each other about the rivalry.

“It's kind of a tradition for a lot of folks,” said Buzuvis. “There's still people in need and the money stays local. It's important to remember those who might need help with the bare essentials, especially this year. Not only does it help during the holidays, it helps all year.”

The COVID-19 pandemic kept some volunteer bell ringers away this year, but other volunteers came to each corps to assist with holiday needs. The Wayne-Westland corps on Venoy Road will open this week 28, and Tuesday and Wednesday too, other than New Year's Day, to take donations and assist residents. To reach the Wayne-Westland corps,  call (734) 722-3660 which has 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. business hours with a noon to 1 p.m. lunch closing.

“If it's brought here or sent here it stays locally,” Barylski said of monetary gifts.” He and colleagues have been busy but shared a laugh that Joanna Rose, who with her husband was a past Wayne-Westland Salvation Army officer, now appears in that role on Chicago bus stop posters holding a bell aloft while in uniform.

“That was so cool. I thought that was hilarious,” said Barylski, joking of being jealous of her “stardom”. 

The Plymouth corps can be reached at (734) 453-5464 .