ASHLAND – Rotary Club of Ashland is raising money for an endowment fund to sustain one of the community’s most popular events — the club’s annual July 4th fireworks display, according to a news release from Ashland County Community Foundation. 

Launched from Ashland High School’s Community Stadium, the Rotary Club fireworks have become a hallmark of Independence Day in Ashland, the release said. 

Even this year, when many annual events were canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rotary club was able to make the necessary modifications to put on a successful fireworks show while promoting social distancing. 

“This is a huge community event, and it’s Rotary’s signature event,” said Ted Daniels, the club’s president, in a prepared statement. “We want to work hard now to build something that is going to be there for the next several generations to enjoy.” 

In addition to a means of building sustainability for the fireworks show, club leaders view the new endowment fund is as a way to honor two Rotarians who have been instrumental in keeping the annual tradition alive — Bill Roepke and Bill Buckingham, according to the release. 

Roepke was the club’s executive secretary for more than 50 years. Buckingham has been a longtime Rotarian and supporter of the fireworks show, which he views as a symbol of patriotism and independence. 

The idea of creating a permanent fund that generates income to support the fireworks was sparked by a strategic grant from Ashland County Community Foundation. 

The Foundation agreed to give the local Rotary club $10,000 with the caveat that the club’s members had to create a long-term sustainability plan for the fireworks displays. 

Daniels estimates the cost of the fireworks display and other expenses associated with the Independence Day show total about $20,000 each year. 

Club leaders accepted the grant and turned it into a challenge. They decided to put ACCF’s $10,000 toward a new endowed fund held at the Foundation, the “Rotary Club of Ashland William Roepke and William Buckingham Agency Fund for the Annual July 4th Fireworks Display.” 

Buckingham gave an additional $5,000 matching gift toward the fund, and the club matched it with $5,000 in proceeds from this year’s fireworks show. 

“What this has become is a match of a match of a match,” said Ashland County Community Foundation Executive Director James Cutright in a prepared statement. “We love that, and it’s a great example of how ACCF continues to try to leverage its assets to provide sustainability for meaningful activities in the community.”

 With the combination of ACCF grant dollars, Buckingham’s contribution and the club’s match, the initial fund total is $20,000. 

Ultimately, Rotary Club of Ashland hopes to grow the endowment fund to $100,000 in the next five to seven years. Investment income from the fund will supplement, but not replace, the club’s annual fundraising. 

Gifts of any size may be made at any time to the “Rotary Club of Ashland William Roepke and William Buckingham Agency Fund for the Annual July 4th Fireworks Display.” Estate gifts and annual gifts, including grants from donor-advised funds, may also be made to the fund. 

To donate to the fund, contact Ashland County Community Foundation, 300 College Avenue, Ashland OH 44805 or by calling (419) 281-4733. Contributions may also be made online by visiting www.accommunityfoundation.org and clicking “Donate to a Fund.”