The Rotary Playground in Hernando’s Landing
Lakeland’s Rotary Clubs are working together with the City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation department to create an exciting new experiential playground at Lake Parker around the historic expedition of Hernando de Soto. The Rotary Playground in Hernando’s Landing on the shores of Lake Parker will be designed around the history of Florida and the joy of discovery. From a replica of a 16th century ship to a tree house to a zip line, the new park promises an experience unlike any other in our community.
Most people know that de Soto landed in Tampa Bay in 1539 in search of gold and began an ill-fated trip through Florida and the southeast United States. But not everyone knows that the famous explorer made a stop in Lakeland at Lake Parker. That site is included on the state’s De Soto Trail.
The Rotary Playground in Hernando’s Landing will focus on adventure and education. It will use the de Soto expedition to provide a playground experience that inspires creativity and exploration. The Rotary Playground will encourage children to use their imaginations while benefiting from physical and social development opportunities. It will be the first playground of its type and scale for north Lakeland, and it promises to draw young explorers from all over.
Lakeland South Rotary Annual Dinner and Auction with Wild Game Hors D’oeuvres
The 2013 Annual Dinner and Auction with Wild Game Hors D’oeuvres was a tremendous success! A special thanks goes to Lakeland South Rotarian Marty Higgenbotham and Angela Higgenbotham for hosting us at the great Rockin’ H Ranch.
2013 was the 15th Annual Lakeland South Rotary Dinner and Auction. Formerly known as the Lakeland South Rotary Wild Game Fest, it is one of the most highly anticipated annual social/charity events in Lakeland; the Annual Dinner and Auction for 2013 was held on March 8 at Higgenbotham’s Rockin’ H Ranch. This year’s primary beneficiary was The Peace River Center Club Success. Also, back by popular demand was The Sofa Kings performing live after the live auction. Our outstanding sponsors, such as MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, Starbucks Coffee, Higgenbotham Auctioneers, Rockin’ H Ranch, Budweiser / Bernie Little Distributors, Porter GPS Geographical Positioning and Surveying, Goss Drywall, Hall Communications, Inc. (WONN / WPCV / WLKF / WWRZ), Folsom Construction, Inc., Wendy’s Restaurants, Claussen’s Fine Furniture, The Ettensohn Agency Insurance, CCC Group, Inc. Industrial Construction, and Bright House have made this event a tremendous success!
The Lakeland South Rotary Dinner and Auction is an annual charity fundraiser that raises thousands of dollars for worthwhile Lakeland charities. The 2012 main beneficiary was The Achievement Academy. They are an amazing organization that helps special needs children reach their maximum potential by providing quality education, therapy and family support. Visit them at http://www.achievementacademy.com. The 2011 Dinner and Auction partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lakeland–it was an amazing success–we raised $16,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lakeland and thousands more for other worthwhile local charities. The 2010 event partnered with the Central Florida Autism Institute to raise $16,000 for their worthwhile charity. Central Florida Autism Institute (CFAI) is a non-profit grass roots organization started by families of children with autism and by concerned professionals. Together they desire simple options of dignity for our children with autism. Please visit the Central Florida Autism Institute at http://www.cfaii.org. 2009’s event raised over $12,000 for the following charities: Alliance for Independence, Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts of America Troop #713, Central Florida Speech & Hearing Center, Club Success, Lakeland’s Common Ground Playground, Crossroads School, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, East Area Adult School, Historic Polk Theatre, Lakeland Police Explorers, Lighthouse Ministries, Peace River Center, Polk County Guardian Ad Litem, Polk County Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, and the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowships.
The Dictionary Project
The Dictionary Project is a longstanding project that we have sponsored in partnership with our Rotary District 6890—a group of 47 great Rotary clubs encompassing Hillsborough, Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties of the West Central Florida are. The goal of this program is to assist local students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers by providing students with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come.
The Dictionary Project has historically provided dictionaries to 5th graders, but we are now transitioning to provide dictionaries to 3rd graders so they can use the dictionaries through grade school. Reading is the most important skill of all. It is the starting point for all the economic and social opportunities this world has to offer. Educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.
Our Lakeland South Rotary members and sponsors have made tireless efforts to improve literacy and the quality of life in our community. Our members and other Rotarians are the breath of life of The Dictionary Project. Through The Dictionary Project, people are empowered to effect change and improve education so that the children will grow up better prepared to compete in the global economy.
Common Ground Park & the 5K Run
(A four club project) – The annual 5K run has raised thousands of dollars for Lakeland’s award winning Common Ground Park.
The Salvation Army Bell Ringing Project
The Salvation Army Bell Ringing Projects an annual project of the Lakeland South Rotary Club, in partnership with the other three Rotary clubs in Lakeland and the Salvation Army. Lakeland South Rotary members volunteer their time to “ring the bell” for the Salvation Army during its annual Christmas kettle drive. The donation kettle, located at the Lake Miriam Publix is manned exclusively by Lakeland Rotarians during the entire holiday season. This allows 100% of the donated funds to go to the Salvation Army’s efforts to help the less fortunate in our local community. We are proud to help the Salvation Army, one of the most outstanding charitable organizations in the United States.
- Local Projects – gunlock safety program; build wheelchair ramps; built playhouses; Holiday dinner distributions; Habitat house; lifesaving equipment for the Lakeland Fire Department, Common Ground Park; support many charities through Annual Dinner & Auction, etc.
- International Projects – water restoration projects, community gardens, equipment for School for kids with Autism in Honduras. Dental equipment sent to S. Domingo; school desks/chairs to S. Domingo; computers to children in India. Also participate in hosting student exchanges (high school), Group Study Exchanges (young professionals), and specific professional groups (Russian dentists, Russian accountants) etc.
- Rotary Foundation Polio Plus
- Haiti Relief – Shelter Box Project
- Rotary Paul Harris Fellowships
- AFI Greenhouse