Steamboat Rotary helps Louisiana

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— The local Steamboat Springs Rotary Club will continue to make its presence felt in Louisiana in the wake of last year's hurricanes.

Mike Forney, Steve Hitchcock and Linda Palmer will travel to Houma, La., to present $10,000 in funds raised as part of the Rotary Club's Books for the Bayou project.

The project started when hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the area. Rotary member Jim Steinberg said the group wanted to help immediately.

"We wanted to do something that was long lasting, would have a high impact and in an area that wasn't going to be met right away by other organizations," he said.

In June, the Rotary Club was able to send 40,000 books to Houma.

"We were hoping to find a way to help beyond just a check," Hitchcock said. "What we wanted to do was work with a rotary club in that area because that connection can make what you do in that area more effective."

The Houma Rotary Club pointed rotary members from Steamboat toward helping two libraries.

One of the two libraries was ravished by the hurricanes, and the other lost nearly all of its books, computers and office supplies.

Steinberg said the project not only helped the community in Houma, but it also brought people in Steamboat together.

Many local businesses and community members donated books and time. But the giving came from far and wide; the Rotary Club even received books from as far away as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"It reached out to many more people than we anticipated," said Steinberg, who won't be able to make the trip due to scheduling conflicts. "It's really exciting."

Forney, Palmer and Hitchcock will depart Steamboat early Tuesday morning aboard Forney's plane.

On Tuesday night, the three will take a tour of the libraries. On Wednesday, they will present a check to the Houma Rotary Club.

"The club down there said they preferred if we could present the check in person," Hitchcock said. "It's just been a great connection between two communities."

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