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Pancake proceeds benefit students in need in OCS

 Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder with members and leadership of Rotary Club of Hillsborough NCJanuary 2023

Since 1990, the Rotary Club of Hillsborough has held an annual fundraiser that unites many citizens in Orange County for a worthy cause. 

The Rotary Club of Hillsborough’s pancake sale fundraiser for the 2022-23 school year yielded thousands of dollars in support of Orange County Schools. In keeping with their tradition, the club makes sure every school within OCS gets a piece of the “pancake,” and they recently joined a district leadership meeting to present each principal a check for $1,000 designated to serve children in need at their respective schools.

“The Hillsborough Rotary Club, like all Rotary clubs, exists to improve communities through a range of humanitarian, intercultural, and educational activities,” said Thomas Thad Farlow, president of the Rotary Club of Hillsborough. “Our membership consists of neighbors who are problem-solvers who believe that unity and action can help lead to lasting change around the world.” 

Farlow is the current club president, now in his second year of service with the Hillsborough Rotary. He said this fundraiser is received “so well by so many,” the club has been able to increase the amount raised every year. A Pancake Committee markets the annual event far and wide, advertising  early and often so residents and neighbors to Orange County receive plenty of advance notice.

Numerous community agencies, businesses and organizations order quantities of plates to feed entire crews of local law enforcement, first responders, fire fighters, hospital workers, local medical professionals, and more. Sometimes, sponsors are so supportive that the club has to “get creative” to deliver all the plates being purchased.

It is a true community event. Farlow said, “It is so popular, because it is such a great cause.”

“People realize this is not Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools,” said Farlow. “For me, as a former military recruiter, teachers I made friends with would ‘secretly’ meet up with students to get weekend backpacks with food. Some children go home on the weekends and won’t get another meal until they come back to school on Mondays.”

The Rotarians also canvass the area, knocking on doors to solicit donations, armed with “cheat sheets” full of principals’ statements about the impact of previous years’ donations. Farlow sees the “blurbs” as powerful tools for club members to show potential donors that — with guidance from school social workers and other support staff — children most in need benefit directly from the fundraiser at every school. None of the monies raised are used for general school funds.

“For the last 3-4 years we have focused on the unmet needs of many OCS students as voiced by the local school social workers,” said Farlow.

Ms. Avis Barnes, MSW, LSSW and the Lead School Social Work Coordinator for OCS, was delighted to announce that the money raised for the current school year is already being put to good use.

She recently reported many school social workers are using the 2022 donations to supplement food for their backpack buddy programs, to clear student lunch accounts of late charges, and purchase laundry detergent and personal hygiene products.

One has even used a portion of the proceeds to buy a student a pair of shoes; the ones he was wearing were two sizes too small.

In addition to those purposes already mentioned, the high school social workers have used some of the money to purchase caps and gowns–so far for two students who could not afford them.

And for those schools that have not used their money yet, several at those sites indicated they plan to use the funds prior to Spring Break in order to get additional snack items for their backpack buddy programs.

“This gift from the Rotary Club goes a long way to improve the lives of our most vulnerable students who are so used to going without,” said Barnes. “The assistance of these funds allow our OCS school social workers to provide basic items that every student should have access to … [especially] when school is not in session, such as on weekends and breaks. We are so appreciative and extremely grateful to receive this support from the Rotary Club.”

Farlow added that while pancake sales generate some revenue, solid community partnerships and corporate sponsors are driving the success and growth of the program. 

“The Hillsborough Rotary Club, along with Interact students, RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awakening) student graduates and community volunteers coordinate the planning, logistics, and sweat equity. But it is our local business leaders and corporate sponsors who make these donations possible.”

OCS Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder said, “We are so thankful for the outpouring of support every year from our local Rotarians and the community at large. So many do so much through this fundraiser each year, and we are so grateful that the club continues to support OCS students who need it the most.”

Rotary has 7 areas of focus:

  • Promote peace and foster understanding across cultures
  • Fight disease
  • Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Save mothers and children
  • Support education
  • Grow local economies
  • Protect the environment

The Rotary Club of Hillsborough participates in and/or leads many civic projects throughout the year, each of which align with one or more of the seven areas of focus. 

For more information about Rotary, go to: