Celebs Exhort Volunteers “Grab a Rake, Cincinnati”

Story by: Peggy Hodgson

Stroll on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square this summer and you may see faces of local celebrities on the huge video screens, inviting you to “Grab a rake,” “Grab a shovel, “Grab a brush” and join what could be the largest volunteer blitz of the year.

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati is organizing Rotary Do Days, with a goal of rallying 651 volunteers to make a difference in close to 40 non-profits on Oct. 26, 27 and 28.

Honorary chair is Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval, whose star turn in the Fountain Square video includes a wide smile and a wider paint brush as he invites “Grab a brush, Cincinnati.

 The videos are part of a community-wide recruitment campaign and feature local sports stars, business and community leaders, TV and radio personalities and a celebrity mixologist. The public can sign up to volunteer on the www.CincinnatiRotary.org  web site, where the “events” menu takes you to Rotary Do Days project descriptions and sign-up information said event chair Linda Muth of Union Township. Co-chairs are Kelly Mahan of Indian Hill and Kelly Collison of Sycamore Township.

Projects range from serving meals to stocking shelves, painting fences, planting gardens, stuffing envelopes and organizing archives. Time commitments range from 90 minutes to a few hours.

“So many smaller non-profits struggle to get volunteers,” Muth said. “Rotary Do Days makes it easy for the non-profits and easy for the volunteers.” Each project has a Rotary member “ambassador” who coordinates site needs, from signs for parking to tools, supplies and snacks.

More than half of the spots already have been claimed by corporate and community partners that are “adopting” projects and organizing employee teams to volunteer. Close to 300 spots are reserved for individuals who want to grab a rake, shovel, apron, paint brush or just a willing smile to help, said Muth.

Rotary organizers are collaborating with CincinnatiCares.org – the on-line volunteer matching service that pairs volunteers with community needs. The event is the Rotary Club’s signature project and exemplifies the Rotary Club’s mission to identify and meet community needs, said Muth. The Rotary’s motto is Service Above Self.

Besides Mayor Pureval, celebrities featured on the recruitment videos include FC Cincinnati center-back Yerson Mosquera, Cincinnati Pops conductor John Morris Russell, Reds announcers Jeff Brantley and Tommy Thrall, Cincinnati Police Chief Teresa Theetge, Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey, Western & Southern Financial CEO John Barrett, Reds bat boy Teddy Kremer, Mixologist Molly Wellman, Montgomery Inn VP Dean Gregory, restaurateur and steakhouse legend Jeff Ruby, and TV and radio personalities Bill Cunningham, Bob Herzog and Tanya O’Rourke.