Rainstorm fails to dampen spirit of giving
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of service to the community, the Rotary Club of Bangkok South (RCBS) held their annual ‘Coins on Silom’ fundraising event in Bangkok on Friday, January 27, 2012.
This was the 14th running of this charity day, which has raised an average of 1.5 million baht per annum for the Club’s service projects. This year’s event raised just over 2 million baht, the second highest result in the event’s history.
Bangkok Deputy Governor Taya Teepsuwan is flanked by Platinum and Gold sponsors during the opening ceremonies.
Originally scheduled for 4 November 2011, the event had to be postponed as a result of the recent devastating floods which also affected parts of Bangkok.
On this particular day, early morning rain during what is normally one of the busiest parts of the day for collections on the street did not augur well, but the unseasonal downpour did not dampen the members and their helpers’ enthusiasm and a deluge of cash during the lunch period made up for the slow start.
The red carpet along Silom Road is dotted with stickers, each representing a donated coin.
A large part of the funds raised came from the generosity of the club’s sponsors which included event sponsor 3M, plus the many platinum, gold, silver and “stand” sponsors. The members of RCBS were ably assisted on the day by members of the Rotaract Club of Assumption University and Interact Club of Bangkok Commercial College, as well as volunteers from the Human Development Foundation run by Fr. Joseph Maier.
The event received the full support of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA), in particular Bangkok Deputy Governor Taya Teepsuwan, who presided over the opening ceremony, the Bangrak and Thungmahamek District Authorities, the Royal Thai Police and all of the building managements along Silom Road for their assistance and permissions to hold the event.
Proceeds from the event will help to fund the many service projects run by RCBS, including clean drinking water systems and library starter kits for rural schools; flood rehabilitation efforts, purchases of medical equipment for rural hospitals and assistance for institutions such as the Pakkred Home for the Handicapped, the Thungmahamek School for the Deaf, the Ban Bang Boon AIDS Hospice and the Sparrow Home for the children of mothers in jail.
Coins on Silom (Coins or CoS) is Rotary Bangkok South’s major fund raising event. It originated from an idea back in 1998 by Past President Wanit Mekdhanasarn and, as far as we know, was the first event of its kind in Thailand – although similar things have been done overseas. We now hold it each Rotary year.
Bangkok Deputy Governor Taya Teepsuwan and Mark Butters, president of the Rotary Club of Bangkok South cut the ribbon to officially declare the 14th Annual Coins on Silom open.
“It was very hard in the first year but we did it and it was a great success. Now the people are looking forward to our project every year. The people are very generous and our collections can be as high as a couple hundred thousand of baht on the day.”
The fundraising concept involves laying a red carpet (actually 3M red cloth tape 20-30 centimetres wide, with a separate 3M tape strip running down its centre) on the footpath down Silom Road – one of Bangkok’s main thoroughfares. The “carpet” runs from Rama IV Road down to Soi Lai Lai Sap (just past Bangkok Bank) then up the other side back to Rama IV. Members and friends exchange token stickers for donations from the public (a symbolic “coin”). The stickers, which bear the logos of the Platinum sponsors, are then laid on the strip on the carpet, to form a continuous line of “coins”.
Dougie Riach (left) and Narinder Saluja (right) are two of the hardest working Rotarians in the Bangkok South Rotary Club.
The event was first held on 2 December 1998, and was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Bhichai Rattakul. Bhichai was to go on to serve as president of Rotary International in 2002-03.
“It was a success beyond our wildest dreams,” exclaimed Wanit. “We budgeted for a net contribution to our charity funds of 500,000 baht – we got just over 1 million baht!”
Past President Wanit Mekdhanasarn, brainchild of the Coins on Silom many years ago, is flanked by Past District Governor Peter Malhotra (left) and Mark Butters, president of the Rotary Club of Bangkok South.
President Mark Butters added, “Since then we have held it in each of the succeeding 13 years, and our net takings have increased considerably (one year exceeded 2 million baht). In the 13 years we have run the event (1998 to 2010 inclusive), we have raised a total of THB 18,973,632.03 (over US$630,000).
Past President Krit Wongsaengarunsri and Rotarian Krin Chammaytesakul are pleased to receive donations.
“This project involves a lot of people and without them we couldn’t do it. I thank Dougie Riach, the fundraising director and his team for their hard work today.”
At the end of the day, Wanit’s words resonated in my mind, which were so true. He said, “There are so many people in our world that are in need, so if you can…help them.”
Rotarians, students, sponsors and volunteers ‘Reach within to embrace Humanity’ as they go about happily raising money for the benefit of the underprivileged children.