As we were holding our Friday night dinner for the Rotary Sunrise annual Changeover celebration, three assholes broke into a colleague’s home to steal money he had collected as part of our annual car raffle. He and his wife were at the dinner, but their children and a sitter were at home. Reportedly, the robbers took cash but didn’t touch the tickets. Once the auditors confirmed that all tickets were accounted for, the car raffle drawing took place as scheduled the next day.
First and foremost, I’m thankful nobody was hurt this past Friday when these three terrible people invaded a family’s home to steal cash they knew was destined for charitable use. Three bank robbers recently received 14-year prison sentences here. I fully expect Friday’s gunmen, once caught, to see much longer sentences.
From a club standpoint, the most important thing is that only a small portion of the total proceeds were stolen because our team was disciplined enough to make regular bank deposits and had made one earlier that day, as well. The robbers could only get what had been turned in over the course of a couple hours. Tens of thousands of dollars for Rotary Club projects, collected over the past three months, had already been secured, and it appears that all of the stolen money may be offset by donations that were pledged after these generous souls heard about the crime.
Yes, there will be second guessing about procedures for future raffles, and that will lead to some prudent changes. We have been reminded the hard way that bad guys have always targeted the cash being raised by ordinary people trying to do some good in the world. It is “stealing candy from a baby” for these gutless wonders who steal innocence as well as cash or prizes. But the wrong reactions would be to not engage in charitable fundraisers and to not donate to good causes. Service and charity are always about helping others facing adversity, even when facing a little of our own.
I remain proud of all of us who spent countless hours volunteering to raise the funds, and I am grateful to the thousands of people who supported our efforts and bought tickets. Their money was not wasted, and a few of them won some nice prizes that were donated in the spirit of Rotary service. They will enjoy other events soon that offer a little fun all in the spirit of raising cash, awareness and spirits.