Service groups raise $5,000 for Marietta food pantry

MARIETTA — Harmony has been restored between two of Marietta’s major service clubs, with one of its best known community services enriched by more than $5,000.

Events began about three weeks ago when the Noon Rotary club discovered the Lions’ brass bell in the podium at the ballroom in the Lafayette Hotel. The clubs have similar bells to call meetings to order.

Rotary president Laura Miller decided to purloin the bell and then offered it for auction on Facebook, setting off a series of events — including the disappearance of the Rotary club bell, which Lion Sara Bonnette said Friday the club “acquired” through undisclosed means – that culminated Friday in the donation of more than $5,000 to the Gospel Mission food pantry.

The two clubs had agreed to a fundraising competition to restore the bells to their owners, and the Lions came out well ahead, raising $3,750 to Rotary’s $1,500. The consequence for Rotarians is that the club has to offer up a member to be thrown in the water.

Miller said she had been selected and will arrive at the Lions’ installation of a new president on Wednesday at the Marietta Country Club, “in a tiara and evening gown,” she said. Bonnette said the Lions had agreed among themselves to have someone tossed into the pool if they beat the Rotarians by $1,000 or more, so Miller will be accompanied by at least one Lion when she gets dunked.

The Gospel Mission was chosen by the clubs as the beneficiary of the drive after the food pantry’s founder and director, Candy Waite, was severely injured in crash in May, and her husband, Jeff Waite, sustained minor injuries.

Kathy Shively from the Gospel Mission was at the Lions’ meeting Friday to accept the donation.

“She’s on a long road to recovery, but the doctors are pleased with her progress,” Shively said, bringing the club up to date on Waite’s condition. “At least 20 volunteers have taken over to run the pantry. I never knew exactly what the Waites did but I found out real quick … the numbers of people they take care of, it’s amazing. I can’t thank you enough.”