Rotary Kingston cancels longstanding fundraiser ‘rejected’ by Queen’s students

Kingstonist file photo of Queen’s Engineering Frosh in 2020.

A tradition in Kingston that saw first-year Queen’s University engineering students partnered with Rotary Kingston volunteers to “Go Nuts” since 1965 has come to an end.

According to Rotary Kingston, a lack of interest and participation in the part of the first-year engineering students, or frosh, led to the cancellation of the 2023 Go Nuts campaign. This comes the same year the fundraising campaign moved away from the sale of nuts, opting instead to sell Laura Secord chocolate bars.

Set to take place the evening of Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, the event was meant to see engineering frosh paired with Rotarians to drive the students around different areas of the city, going door to door selling the chocolate bars, with all funds raised going to Rotary Kingston. Over the past 58 years, apart from those during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kingston residents have come to expect to see the frosh students at their door, their wild hairstyles and gentian-violet-stained skin garnering laughter and applause from Kingstonians who support both the efforts of Rotary locally, and the influx of students that includes the easily-spotted Queen’s engineering frosh.

But on Monday evening, that didn’t happen. That’s because, according to Rotary Kingston, “the decision was made to pull the plug” just “one hour after the Rotary Nut Drive was scheduled to begin.”

“Despite months of logistical planning, route creation, 300 cases of Laura Secord chocolate bars ordered, and volunteer Rotarian drivers recruited and waiting in their vehicles to pick up the students to blitz the city, this annual tradition was rejected by the students,” Rotary Kingston said in a press release on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

“Of the 400+ registered Engineering Frosh students available to support this event, only a handful agreed to help with the canvassing despite efforts from organizers and 2nd year Engineering students. Organizers had no choice but to cancel the event.”

Rotary Kingston said that when the organization approached their “long-time faculty liaison,” they were told “We can ask. We can strongly encourage. But we can’t tell them what to do.”

Asked for clarification on why the students refused to participate, Marci McMullen, Go Nuts Nut Drive Co-chair, echoed those sentiments.

“Students don’t need to do anything they don’t want to, and they didn’t want to go door to door to sell chocolate, so they left,” she said.

“We are now trying to sell cases of the chocolate bars to local people and businesses.”

According to the press release from Rotary Kingston, the organization is now “faced with developing a plan to avoid losing thousands of dollars on a product that can’t be returned.” Noting that funds raised through the campaign “help support Rotary and the community programs, services, and projects that focus on helping children & youth, children & adults living with disabilities, seniors, food security, the environment, and so much more,” the organization said that cases of 30 Laura Secord chocolate bars (including nut-free dark chocolate, milk chocolate, French mint, puffed rice, and toffee crunch varieties) are now for sale to the community through Rotary Kingston for $150. The chocolate will be delivered to the doors of those who order by Rotarians.

The five varieties of Laura Secord chocolate bars included in each case available through Rotary Kingston. Images via Laura Secord official website.

“There’s also an option to make a donation of any amount – please know that your contribution will be graciously accepted,” Rotary Kingston said, thanking Lionhearts Inc. for offering cold storage of the chocolate bars “during one of the hottest weeks of 2023.”

“The Rotary Nut Drive has evolved over the years to ensure a safe and fun environment for all concerned. While it is a shame that 2023 has marked the end of an era in local fundraising, Rotary Clubs in the Kingston area look forward to developing new events that will allow us to continue to make a difference in our community.”

Asked if the cancellation of this year’s event means the annual fundraiser is cancelled indefinitely, McMullen indicated the 58-year-old tradition is unlikely to happen again.

“I doubt we will do the Go Nuts fundraiser going forward,” she said.

Requests for comment from Queen’s University were redirected to the Queen’s Engineering Society. Inquiries to the Engineering Society did not receive response before time of publication. This article will be updated if/when response is received.

3 thoughts on “Rotary Kingston cancels longstanding fundraiser ‘rejected’ by Queen’s students

  • Erosion of society is what I read here.

    Rotary Kingston said that when the organization approached their “long-time faculty liaison,” they were told “We can ask. We can strongly encourage. But we can’t tell them what to do.”

    Asked for clarification on why the students refused to participate, Marci McMullen, Go Nuts Nut Drive Co-chair, echoed those sentiments.

    “Students don’t need to do anything they don’t want to, and they didn’t want to go door to door to sell chocolate, so they left,” she said.

    “We are now trying to sell cases of the chocolate bars to local people and businesses.”

  • Looks like another snub to Kingston by Queen’s students. Not all, admittedly, but we should be less tolerant of their ‘parties’.

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