Clayton Rotarians make fruit baskets for seniors

A dozen Clayton County Rotarians made hundreds of holiday fruit baskets at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, on Wednesday, for senior citizens who receive assistance from the group's "Meals on Wheels" program.

It all worked kind of like an assembly line, used to build cars.

More than a dozen Rotarians were passing wicker baskets down the line. At each early stop, a different type of fruit was added, including apples, oranges, bananas and grapefruit. Then, at later stops, Rotarians added some candies, handmade holiday cards, and a little flyer with information about the Rotary Club.

Finally, the baskets were placed in clear cellophane bags, and then tied up with red and green ribbons. They were then placed off to the side, in another room, for temporary storage while more baskets were prepared.

"How many more baskets are there?" one Rotarian asked as the group got close to the end of its task.

"About 800," another Rotarian joked.

Clayton County Rotary Club President, Gid Rowell, said the fruit baskets are an annual tradition for the club, dating back more than 40 years. The group assembled more than 350 fruit baskets on Wednesday, he said.

"It's kind of our signature event," Rowell said. "Everybody [in the Clayton County Rotary Club] comes out and participates in it, and we got a lot of positive feedback from our ‘Meals on Wheels' participants because of it."

Rotarians pointed out that programs, like the fruit basket giveaway, hark back to the service-oriented ideals of Rotary Club International. Rotarian, Kay Knestrick, said the international organization has four avenues of service in which members are expected to participate, including community projects, international projects, club projects and vocational projects.

"This is one of our community projects," Knestrick said. "We love giving back to the community. That's why we do this every year."

Another Rotarian, Larry Brewer, added, "There's an old saying that sums it up perfectly, and that is ‘You can't feel good, until you give something away.' "

While the majority of the baskets go to "Meals on Wheels" participants, Rowell said a few were split up among the Griswell Center, a Jonesboro nursing home, and Visiting Friends of Clayton County, a Clayton County Probate Court program that provides advocates for the elderly.

Some Visiting Friends of Clayton County came out to assist the Rotarians in putting the fruit baskets together. "I like doing it just for the giving aspect, and being able to do something for someone else," said Visiting Friends volunteer, Joan Boozman.

Another volunteer from the Probate Court program, Deborah Tyson, added "You can just see the joy in their expressions when you give them one of these baskets."