Rotaract club supports families affected by Malden fire

Group gave gift cards to families; community members donated items through porch-side pickup system



Rotaract members collected a variety of necessities, including sweatshirts, hats, gloves and hygiene products.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

Although COVID-19 halted projects and in-person meetings for the Rotaract Club of the Palouse, the group saw an opportunity to help families impacted by the Malden fire.

The club is service-based with a focus on engaging younger community members, ages 18 to 30. With offices in Pullman and Moscow, the group plans projects every month, said Katrina Barlass, President and University of Idaho senior education major.

The local Rotary District awarded the club a $300 grant to purchase gift cards for Malden and Pine City families. A community member also donated $350. This allowed the group to buy 13 different $50 cards for grocery stores, like Walmart and Rosauers, said club advisor Jake St. Clair.

Rotaract members collected a variety of necessities, including sweatshirts, hats, gloves and hygiene products. Barlass said the items were given to the United Way of Whitman County due to the preexisting relationship with Malden residents.

“There’s a lot of people out there that want to do these things, and they don’t know how to do it,” St. Clair said.

In order to find out if they would be able to help affected families, Barlass asked Rotaract members if there was interest in a fall fundraiser, she said.

The response was overwhelming, she said. Even if it meant meeting on Zoom from a distance, COVID-19 was the perfect time to help others.

“As president of Rotaract, it was just so exciting to hear,” Barlass said. “The officers and I started brainstorming ways that we could help our community while limiting our contact with others.”

The club usually hosts an annual care drive for U.S. military members, but it was canceled last spring. Barlass said after she saw an influx of posts on social media about wildfires, including in Malden and Pine City, the group decided the care drive should benefit those families.

Barlass created fliers and posted them around Pullman and Moscow in October hoping community members would donate items through a porch-side pickup system, she said. People could also drop off supplies in bins set up around town.

The calls started to pour in, and by the end of the care drive in December they had collected over $300 worth of items, Barlass said.

The group does not have any upcoming fundraisers at the moment, she said. However, those interested can attend Rotaract Club meetings at 6 p.m. biweekly on Wednesdays.

“It is times of uncertainty that we can always rely on our community to support one another,” Barlass said.