The University of Maine at Presque Isle and the Presque Isle Rotary Club will host their Seventh Annual Purple Pinkie Project on Friday, Nov. 9 and, with the help of the Rotary Clubs in Caribou, Fort Fairfield, Limestone, Mars Hill, and Washburn, the celebration spreads throughout central Aroostook County and, for the second time, into Canada. All activities raise awareness of Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio worldwide and raise money $1 at a time to go toward that global effort.
As they do each year, organizers and volunteers will “paint” the region purple during the Purple Pinkie Project. Similar to other projects that have been held by Rotary Clubs around the country, local organizers will host Purple Pinkie stations, encouraging people to donate $1 to have their pinkies marked with purple ink—the dollar goes to Rotary International’s “End Polio Now” campaign and the purple pinkie symbolizes one child’s life saved from the crippling disease. The estimated cost to immunize one child from polio is $1, and when each child gets immunized, Rotarians mark their pinkies with purple ink to prevent double dosages.
“We are very pleased to be celebrating seven years of the Purple Pinkie Project in this region and joining with so many community partners, including fellow Rotarians, local schools, and area businesses, in the global effort to end polio,” Jason Parent, Presque Isle Rotary Club President, said. “The project has become an important tradition for our area: it gives everyone the chance to make a big impact—saving lives from polio—through small acts—the donation of just $1—and it’s embraced by young and old alike.”
Between Oct. 23 and Nov. 9, and in celebration of World Polio Day on Oct. 24, Rotarians across central Aroostook County are wearing purple polo “polio” shirts to spread awareness of Rotary’s End Polio Now efforts. Activities kicked off on Oct. 23 with the Mars Hill Rotary Club hosting Purple Pinkie activities at Fort Street School and Central Aroostook Junior/Senior High School. On Oct. 24, and in the week leading up to World Polio Day, the Woodstock Rotary Club in New Brunswick, held Purple Pinkie Project events at three Woodstock community schools—Meduxnekeag Consolidated School, Townsview School, and Woodstock High School. During their event at Townsview School, first grader Brody Hamilton, who had been collecting money through a social media campaign to help unfortunate people, decided to donate the proceeds from his work, $150, to the club’s Purple Pinkie effort. The Washburn Rotary Club hosted its first-ever Purple Pinkie Project at schools in Washburn on Oct. 24 and also offered a Purple Pinkie table during its Hunters Breakfast on Oct. 27. In addition, the Presque Isle Rotary Club hosts a Purple Pinkie station at Easton Junior-Senior High School on Nov. 6.
Round two of the region’s Purple Pinkie efforts gets underway on Nov. 9, with the Project coming to more than a dozen sites in the area. Community members are encouraged to visit any of five Purple Pinkie stations that will be set up for the public:
- At UMPI, in the Owl’s Nest, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- At NMCC, in the Akeley Student Center, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. UMPI and NMCC Education students will staff this table.
- At the Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, at the A.R. Gould cafeteria, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Members of UMPI’s BioMedical Club will staff this table.
- At UMPI’s Houlton Higher Education Center, at the front desk, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
- At the Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle, from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Also on Nov. 9, Presque Isle Rotarians will be on hand to host Purple Pinkie stations at Easton Elementary School, Mapleton Elementary School, Pine Street Elementary School, Presque Isle High School, Presque Isle Middle School, and Zippel Elementary School. A Purple Pinkie station will also be set up for employees at MMG Insurance (staffed by UMPI Business Club members). In addition, the Caribou Rotary Club will continue with its drive to support awareness of polio eradication efforts year round with club fundraising at each club meeting, and the Fort Fairfield Rotary Club and Limestone Rotary Club plan to host Purple Pinkie events later in the school year.
This year’s activities carry on a tradition of raising many local dollars for, and even more awareness about, Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio. The first annual World Polio Day and Purple Pinkie Project event, held in October 2012, saw an estimated 1,000 people in the community participate and initially raised $1,250. An anonymous donation of $1,000, however, pushed the fundraising total to well above $2,000. Last year’s event raised $3,000 and saw an even greater number of community members participate.
Polio has not been a problem in the U.S. for many years, but this is not the case in several developing countries. In 1985, Rotary International began raising funds in an effort to eliminate polio worldwide. By partnering with the World Health Organization and other government and private groups, Rotary International has achieved a 99 percent reduction of polio worldwide. However, there are still three countries that have not been declared polio-free—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. To completely wipe out polio, Rotary International is raising funds and mobilizing volunteers to bring immunization projects to these areas.
“The University of Maine at Presque Isle has been honored to partner with the Presque Isle Rotary Club on this important endeavor for the past seven years and share what can be done to help in the global effort to eradicate polio,” UMPI President and Presque Isle Rotarian Ray Rice said. “We look forward to another successful year and hope to see many participate in this critical effort.”
This year’s event is co-presented by UMPI and the Rotary Clubs of Central Aroostook, and is sponsored by Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, NMCC, and MMG Insurance. For more information, contact UMPI’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452 or visit www.umpi.edu/worldpolioday.