While it has happened before, this may be the largest anonymous donation to date for the Lake Ozark Rotary Club.

As the clock was ticking to the magical hour when a dedicated crew of Lake Ozark Rotarians were scheduled to begin delivery of bags stuffed full of holiday cheer, a last-minute plea for help was answered by an anonymous donor whose generosity will mean some 100 children will experience the joy of presents under the tree. 

While it has happened before, this may be the largest anonymous donation to date for the Lake Ozark Rotary Club. Earlier this week, as those 100 candy canes were still waiting to be adopted through the organization’s Candyland program, an anonymous donor stopped by the program’s home base in Osage Beach at the Stone Crest Mall and picked up the last 100 candy canes. That act of generosity represents somewhere between $7,500 to $10,000 by the time all is said and done. Those adopting children through the candy cane program generally spend $75 to $100 for each child. 

Rotarian Richard Ross said the donation came at just the right time as the club was getting ready to do a last minute push to get the word out that help was still needed. He said it was quite the act of generosity — one that the Rotarians certainly will never forget. 

“It was awesome,” he said. 

Ross has been involved with the club for several years. The club provides funding for a number of lake area charities and a scholarship program in addition to Candyland. While all the programs benefit and give back to the community, Ross said being a part of Candyland is memorable and a great experience. After all, he said, who doesn’t enjoy being Santa. Even if only for a day. 

Since 1984, the Lake Ozark Rotary Club has been promoting the spirit of the holiday season by providing gifts for children in need. Over the years, the club has provided for more than 10,000 children. This year alone, there were more than 300 children to be adopted from School of the Osage and Eldon school districts. 

The program is simple. Rotarians hang candy canes on their tree with the name of a child. The candy canes are then adopted and once the gifts with the candy cane are returned, they get everything ready for delivery. 

Now that the children have been taken care of, Ross said the fun begins for the Rotarians who will spend the next several days wrapping and preparing the children’s gifts to be delivered through the schools the first of next week. 

“It’s an absolutely enjoyable experience,” he said.