Rotary’s Dunkin’ Donut Day makes $1 million goal

Tom KingFarragut

In one day – yesterday – Rotary clubs across Tennessee, joined by two districts in Alabama and one in Mississippi, raised their goal of $1 million to help eradicate polio from the world. And how did they accomplish this? By selling approximately 55,000-plus Dunkin’ Donuts on Purple Pinkie Donut Day!

Knoxville’s six Rotary clubs – Farragut Rotary, Knoxville Rotary, North Knox Rotary, Volunteer Rotary, Bearden Rotary and Knoxville Breakfast – led District 6780’s effort. Joining 6780 were districts 6760, West and Middle Tennessee; 6880, South Alabama; 6850, North Alabama; and 6800, Memphis and Mississippi.

There were 44,000 doughnuts made in Georgia and 11,000 more made in Nashville. In addition, there will be several donations made today for the cause, which should take the final number in excess of the $1 million. For every box of 10 doughnuts, there will be three matching funds. The matches come from the district, Rotary’s World Fund and those dollars are then matched 2-1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of Bill Gates’ priorities is eliminating polio. Only two countries still have polio cases – Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So, why Purple Pinkie Donuts? Here’s the answer: In countries where the threat of polio remains high, every child under 5 receives the polio vaccine by mouth twice per year during events called “National Immunization Days.” Every child vaccinated has the little finger (pinkie) nail of their left hand painted with an indelible purple marker. Over time the “Purple Pinkie” has become an international symbol of a polio-free world.

Four years ago, Dunkin’ Donut owner Dave Baumgartner, a member of the Rotary Club of Knoxville, and his marketing director, Margo Hughes, came up with this fundraising idea.

“We started this project because I wanted our company to have a greater purpose than just retail sales and I’ve been teaching our employees Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” Baumgartner said.

In 2019 only District 6780 in East Tennessee held this fundraising event and brought in just more than $500,000. This year the goal was to raise $1 million by expanding it to stores throughout Tennessee and to the districts in Alabama and Mississippi.

Mission accomplished!

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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