The Rotary Club of Ceres fell victim to thieves Saturday night when the service club's trailer filled with equipment was stolen from the driveway of one of its members in Hughson.
The California Highway Patrol recovered the trailer on Lucas Road just off of Service Road early Sunday morning, but the equipment was gone. The equipment, used for the club's annual crab feed dinner, was valued between $10,000 and $15,000 and included items the club has accumulated over the years - tables, kitchen utensils, ice chests, stock pots, portable grills, propane tanks, coffee makers, plastic totes, bowls, pans, knives, aprons, appliances and more.
With this year's dinner slated just two weeks away - Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Howard Training Center -club members are pulling together their resources to host the event without any more hitches.
"Although this is a major setback for our club, our members are committed to moving forward and putting on a super event for nearly 400 guests at this year's crab feed," said Rotary Club President Cathy Pietanza. She said Rotarians are sharing the story on social media to spread the word about the missing equipment, while others are donating equipment and necessary items for the event.
"We're fortunate that we're holding the event at Howard Training Center this year. They have a lot of the equipment we need since they host a similar event at their facility," said Pietanza. The club decided to move the event to Howard Training Center last year to increase ticket sales.
Ceres Rotarian Ken Boyd is offering a $1,000 reward for the recovery of the contents and information leading to the conviction of the people responsible for the theft.
Each year, Ceres Rotary raises between $30,000 and $40,000 during this signature event, using the proceeds to give back to Ceres and the world. Among some of Ceres Rotary local projects are providing scholarships to graduating high school seniors, sponsoring soccer and baseball teams, conducting the Rotary Read-In and Mock Interviews at Ceres schools and maintaining the Rotary Grove at Smyrna Park. Additionally, Ceres Rotary generously supports the Salvation Army and Red Shield Center by donating books, hosting an Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, and making facility improvements at the Center.
Most notably are the club's international efforts of eradicating polio in the world and its wheelchair distributions to physically challenged citizens of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Columbia and Palestine.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the club's 2017 Crab Feed. To purchase tickets or to provide information about the theft, please call Liz Hosmer at 485-4553.