Group photo vets memorial.jpg

Orono Rotary, officers with Orono PD and Maple Plain Mayor Julie Maas-Kusske recently poured concrete at Maple Plain’s Veterans Memorial Park. Now the Rotarians are looking to help veterans with yard clean-up this fall. (Submitted photo)

Orono Rotary is offering yard clean-up help to veterans this fall, taking the Rotary International motto of “Service Above Self” back to those who have laid it all on the line by putting their service in the military above their own selves.

“It’s hard to do service projects this year because of the logistics of doing things [during the COVID-19 pandemic],” said Chris Fischer, deputy chief with Orono Police. The city of Orono is a member of Orono Rotary.

“What we are is a service club and it’s been hard to find service projects to do this year,” Fischer continued, adding that while the club had done some work with Habitat for Humanity last month, popular service events and fundraisers like this year’s “Party in the Park” had to be canceled.

Fischer said that veterans who wanted help with yard clean-up could contact him directly on his office line, 952-249-4722. Even just among his officers, Fischer said he and the Rotarians had plenty of volunteers for the work and that they’ll do as many yards as they can “until the snow flies.”

Volunteers would be available any weekday, late afternoon or evening, with more staffing on weekend days, he said.

Orono Rotary involves itself in service projects throughout Orono, Long Lake, Maple Plain and parts of Medina and Independence. This is the first time the club has embarked on a yard clean-up project, Fischer said, but it’s not the first time these Rotarians have focused their service work on vets—they recently put their muscle into pouring concrete at Maple Plain’s Veterans Memorial Park. The club, in partnership with the city of Maple Plain, had raised $20,000 from two previous years’ “Party in the Park” events and that money has gone toward the memorial project.

That amount was rounded out by a grant secured by Rotarian and Maple Plain council member John Fay and which will go toward additional seating at the park, commemoration of each branch of the military on the benches and the ability to fly multiple U.S. flags on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

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