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Change for Children Owls to Take Flight Again

Remember the "Change for Children" owl banks?  Sadly, they were grounded during the Covid-19 lockdown.  

A little history.  Our inspiration for the owl banks came from PDG Surasak. During his year as District Governor (2015-2016), he gave each Rotarian in the district a ceramic owl bank (left), with the Rotary emblem for the year "Be a Gift to the World" when he visited he clubs. He asked us to fill our banks with spare change and donate to Polio Plus. The cute owls are made at the Indra Ceramics factory in Lampang, owned by PDG Anurak.

After that year, CP Roger and I were inspired to create a CMIRC initiative, "Change for Children", using the same basic owl bank of PDG Surasak, but with our Club logo and the now-familiar slogan "Change for Children" and our club's website (right). The idea is that an owl can be "adopted" for 200 baht and when full of spare change, returned to a CMIRC member where it will be exchanged for a re-conditioned owl bank.  We discovered early that it took a special talent to purge the full owls, thus the offer to trade in the owls, rather than asking purging of the adopted parents. Roger has the special talent for purging owls, with the able assistance of our cats. Don't try this at home. Often the rubber plugs fail during the process and PDG Anurak has been kindly kept Roger supplied with replacement plugs at no cost.

A stuffed owl holds about 900-1000 baht if the parent is feeding a diet of satangs and one baht coins. More generous parents can create owls holding up to 3000 baht. In normal times, two or three owls a month return home, but the past five months haven't been "normal" and none have returned.  Most of the owl parents are members of the Chiang Mai Expats Club and that group hasn't been meeting, so their owls haven't been returned.  Our "Change for Children" fund is very, very low. Some of the owls may be alone in unoccupied homes and condos in Chiang Mai as their parents are trapped outside the country, unable to return.

The "Change for Children" funds are used for unbudgeted and unanticipated needs that involve children, sometimes appeals that come from other Rotary clubs or shortfalls in our quarterly raffle income. For example, we've forwarded donations to the Rotary Club of Mae Chan to help with an orphanage project and the relocation of an Akha school.  Each year, we support a student at Warm Heart Foundation -- a commitment of 25,000 baht for the year, with the proceeds from a quarter's raffle income. But, we usually fall short, so the difference comes from the Change for Children fund.  Our most recent donation from the fund was to Jo Jo's Sanctuary, again to make up for a shortfall in previous quarter's raffle income for a commitment to fund a portion of their "Building Family Dreams" program. 

It's nice to have an emergency fund that we can tap immediately as when one of the schools where we deliver winter clothing called because their roof had been damaged in a storm. While the Thai government replaced the roof, it wasn't able to replace their damaged school supplies. The owls came to the rescue. Right now the "Change for Children" fund is very small and we have a fleet of owls waiting to be adopted. Do you have a place for one in your home?


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