Washburn is a member of Leavenworth/Cashmere Council 13597 in Leavenworth, Wash. He serves as Secretary for the Washington State Council. His dog, Jack, became the mascot for Washington State’s Drive for People with Disabilities, more commonly known as candy drives/“Tootsie Roll Drives.” Here’s how it got started.
So, how did my dog Jack get involved?
In 2011, I needed to kick this program off at our Summer Leadership Meeting in Pasco, Wash. I needed something that would make an impression. I had just purchased some of the familiar aprons used across the country in other Tootsie roll drives. My dog, Jack, thought the package was for him. He was so thrilled to see the aprons and curious what they were for.
He kept bugging me, so I put an apron on him. He was so proud and did not want me to take it off.
Jack made his debut in July of 2011 and became our mascot for the next two years. He made numerous appearances within a 50-mile radius of where we lived in Olympia.
It starts with a Tootsie Roll
One of the reasons I joined the Knights was seeing the guys holding Tootsie Roll Drives in my old council, St. Charles Council 753 in Vermont.
At the time, Washington State did not have a Tootsie Roll Program, so with the help of Gus Sundermeier, co-founder of the original Tootsie Roll Program, I was able to put together a program for our state in 2011. I used several other states as examples of what worked and didn’t work to develop our unique program.
Now, each year, between Sept. 15 and Columbus Day weekend, around 65 councils in our state get permission to hold a drive in front of businesses. A Tootsie roll is given to everyone, whether they give a donation or not.
Local donations stay local
Eighty percent of the net funds remain in our local area. No council retains any funds for their efforts; the 80 percent goes to organizations that help people with intellectual or physical disabilities.
The remaining net 20 percent of funds raised by councils is retained by Columbus Charities, a 501 (c) 3 run by the Washington State Council to assist Special Olympics and other similar programs on a statewide basis.
Every penny goes far
In addition to Special Olympics, more than 85 organizations have benefited from the Tootsie Roll Program. No funds are retained by any council. Every penny above expenses goes to help people with special needs.
The guys really enjoy this program, and it continues to grow each year.
Two million Tootsie Rolls later, Jack’s memory still lives on
We lost Jack five years ago, but his picture continues to show up at events, banners, media, etc. I don’t believe this program would be this successful without him.
From 2011-2018, the Tootsie roll program has raised more than $906,649. Of this, $828,518 have been granted to over 85 organizations that help the people with special needs.
Over 1.7 million Tootsie rolls have been given away.
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