Even though the pandemic slammed on the brakes for most of our usual activities and gathering, the wheels at the Rotary Club of Keizer kept on rolling.

“When there are challenges, there are opportunities to be involved. For better or worse, we’ve had many opportunities to be involved,” said Jeff Davis, the Keizer club’s current president.

The Rotary Club of Keizer is the local affiliate of Rotary International, a group that works to ensure access to fundamental aspects of life like water, literacy, health and peace.

For the Keizer club, that mission focused on the rebuilding of communities in Santiam Canyon for the past several months. Club members donated about $5,000 to a Salem Hospital Wildfire Relief Fund.

Rotarian Mark Caillier was instrumental in making another donation to the Santiam Canyon community to established a different kind of library.

“It’s a program for loaning out tools to people who need them,” Davis said. Gas cans, saws, blowers, and nail guns are a few of the items that can be “checked out” for use in rebuilding efforts. “We were also able to partner with Ace Hardware for some discounts.”

Rotary will also be providing volunteer help to create community sheds to house the tool lending program.

In more local giving, Keizer’s Rotary members are backing an effort to plant peace poles around town. The idea was brought forward by a longtime Keizer volunteer, Pat Fisher, and a member of Rotary eClub One, a global Rotary network that meets exclusively online.

Peace poles are obelisks that display the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in multiple languages per pole.

“Pat has put a lot of time and attention into that project and has done a lot of research to make sure that the poles put in the neighborhood parks are representative of the languages spoken in each neighborhood,” Davis said.

Another project originated with Davis himself, before he became club president. A few years ago, Davis approached the Keizer Parks Advisory Board with a proposal to install workout stations in some Keizer parks. In addition to a green light, the board banked the project with grants and Rotary provided a substantial sum to make it happen.

“We fell a little behind because of the pandemic, but we should have the last ones installed this year and some rubberized surfaces in place at the original locations,” Davis said.

Last month, the parks board approved a $14,000 grant to help bring the project in for a landing. G.R. Morgan Construction is providing about $4,500 in materials for the rubberized surface.

While the peace pole and fitness station projects have a finite beginning and end, Keizer Rotarians contribute to some ongoing efforts.

“One of our annual contributions is to an organization that takes firefighting equipment to Nogales, Mexico, each year,” Davis said.

In normal times, Rotarians hold a major food drive to support the Marion Polk Food Share. Food supply lines for those in need have undergone several disruptions as part of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Rotarian Betty Hart stepped up to make the drive happen this year.

“The kind of people we look for is anyone who wants to be involved, whether they are bringing an idea to the table or looking to find out what opportunities are available,” Davis said.

The easiest way to get involved with Keizer’s Rotary Club is by visiting keizerrotary.org and filling out an application form. In lieu of that, talking with current Rotarians can also open up lanes of entry. Volunteers for Rotary projects can also apply at the site and membership is not a requirement.