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Each incoming president of the Rotary Club of Evanston is responsible for developing a year-long theme for the organization. After his induction last July, Rotary Club of Evanston President Richard Peach decided the club’s focus will be literacy.

The theme determines the selection of topics by the club’s speakers for its events and helps in the selection of these small “thank-you” gifts the club gives to any speakers that year. Mr. Peach explained that the club can have anywhere from 40 to 45 speakers in a given year and that there is $500 in the club’s budget to thank guests for speaking.

He said that when elected he decided he “didn’t want to give another ballpoint pen to speakers.” In accordance with his theme, Mr. Peach decided he wanted to give speakers the opportunity to choose a book to donate to District 65 libraries, in effect creating the Rotary Book Fund, instead of using the money to thank guest speakers with gifts, 

The fund allows speakers the chance to have a book from the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award list or from the Carter G. Woods Award winners donated to a library in District 65 in their name. Mr. Peach said Donna Richardson, library media specialist at Chute Middle School, chooses what book from the lists will be donated and which library in the District will receive them.

“We felt much better about giving out books instead of coffee cups and pens,” Mr. Peach said. 

He said Rotary Club of Evanston President-Elect Eugene Servillo has chosen to continue the program but will expand speakers’ options to include younger children’s books to be donated to the Evanston Township High School daycare.