A 58-year-old fundraiser involving The Engineering Society of Queen’s University (EngSoc) and the Rotary Club of Kingston ended in a disaster.
First-year engineering students meant to accompany Rotary volunteers in their vehicles and assist with chocolate bar distribution across Kingston departed the Go Nutz nut drive early on Sept. 4, leaving the Rotary Club with 9,000 unsold Laura Secord chocolate bars.
Over the years, the traditional nut drive transitioned to selling chocolate bars due to the prevalence of nut allergies. Proceeds collected from the nut drive—which in 2022 amounted to $15,000—support Kingston community programs and services.
The fundraiser was cancelled an hour into the event after student volunteers left unexpectedly.
Marci McMullen, a member of the Rotary Club and co-chair of the Go Nutz nut drive, said EngSoc hosted a barbeque for students prior to the planned distribution of the chocolate bars. McMullen recalls students eating then leaving the fundraiser, leaving Rotary volunteers without support.
“[It was] a disaster,” McMullen said in an interview with The Journal. “There were about 60 cars full of volunteer drivers and they were queued to start loading engineering students after they finished up a barbeque [EngSoc] did for them. Students were leaving after they’d eaten their barbeque food.”
During the fundraiser last year—the first one after COVID-19—students were uneager to get into volunteers’ cars, and it became clear to McMullen EngSoc hadn’t fully explained to students their intended task.
EngSoc ensured McMullen for this year’s event, students would know exactly what was going to happen at the fundraiser.
“The students had no idea what was going on [this year],” McMullen said. “We had been assured by [EngSoc] this year, all students would have information [about the event] ahead of time and be well-versed and prepared, they weren’t.”
In the days following the event, the Rotary Club was left with 300 cases of chocolate bars and desperately reached out to members of the Kingston community asking if they would purchase them.
“We went out into the community and press and told them what happened. Within three days after the fundraiser, we had sold out all [the chocolate bars],” McMullen said.
According to McMullen, EngSoc purchased 50 cases of chocolate.
“[EngSoc] really stepped up,” McMullen said.
In a statement to The Journal, EngSoc expressed their regret over the cancellation of the fundraiser, emphasizing their desire to learn from the incident and strengthen their relationship with Rotary Club in the future.
“It is our sincerest hope to find new and mutually beneficial pathways to be unified with Rotary in their service to the Kingston community,” EngSoc said.
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