No grade point averages, financial statements, or athletic abilities required, the only criteria that the Soldotna Rotary Club evaluates for its scholarships each year is what the local college bound student has given to the area in the way of community service during their high school career. "This year with the proceeds from our annual Rotary Rose sale we will be awarding nine $1,000 scholarships to students from the Soldotna area," said Scholarship committee chair Becky Foster.
Last week the Kenai/Soldotna area was inundated with some 800 dozen roses of all colors, "Each of our club members commits to selling or buying at least 10 dozen roses each year. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self and we feel this is a way of reinforcing community service as a core educational value among our young people, and everywhere you see Rotary Roses you know someone has given twenty bucks to help fund those scholarships, some of our members give them to family, friends, hospitals, or senior centers, others sell them at their businesses, but every dozen represents a contribution to our scholarship fund, " explained Doug Schoessler who has coordinated the Rotary Rose sale for the last 13 or 14 years.
The event started as a scholarship fund raiser nearly 20 years ago according to Soldotna Rotarian Ed Krohn. Krohn says the event has gone through many changes over the years, "We use to order the roses directly from the growers and they would come to us in huge bulk lots and sometimes Doug would have to drive all night to Anchorage to haul them down from the airport, then we'd spend hours unpacking, trimming, and wrapping them and if you didn't have gloves some guys would go home with their hands all cut up like someone had tortured them. We had a lot of fun, but we really didn't know what we were doing, but people here helped us out and bought roses from us every year anyway because they knew it was for the kids, but now we buy through Tammy's Flowers & Gifts in Soldotna and all the roses are handled professionally and all we do is add our Rotary sticker and deliver them out into the community and each dozen opens just beautifully." A rose by any other name may smell as sweet but Rotary Roses help young people further their education and grow into community minded adults.
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