Byron Rotary helps with hand sanitizer shortage


BYRON – When Rotary Club of Byron was forced to cancel its annual Pot of Gold fundraiser due to the COVID-19 pandemic, every single one of their sponsors told it to keep their sponsorship money so they could continue doing good things in the community.

Rotary’s first effort was to donate 500 pounds of sugar to Grant View Distillery for use in making hand sanitizer for first responders.

“We wanted to do something meaningful and we wanted to do it fast,” Byron Rotary President Kay King said. “The sanitizer shortage was so pronounced, and we knew that Grant View Distillery was offering its resources and its expertise, so it was a perfect fit.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March, hand sanitizer was among the first items to disappear from store shelves. Online, sanitizer has been offered for as much as $300 an ounce. Currently, most companies that offer sanitizer are listing a wait time of several weeks; a product that sold for pennies an ounce prior to the pandemic is now routinely being offered at roughly the price of filet mignon.

Grant View, a Rockford Distillery, has been producing up to 50 gallons of sanitizer a day, using donated sugar and beer in the fermenting process. They are producing sanitizers from the processes of whiskey, beer and vodka. Distillers nationwide are using donated raw materials and a “recipe” from the World Health Organization for the ethanol-based antiseptic, adding glycerin and aloe, to produce a spray that exceeds the 65 percent recommended level to kill germs.

While some area distillers are selling their product, Grant View is donating sanitizer to first responders in Winnebago, Ogle, Boone and Stephenson counties.

Rotary Club of Byron appreciates Grant View’s efforts and is grateful to have partnered in this donation with the following sponsors: Holcomb Bank, Exelon Nuclear-Byron Station, Byron Bank, Dickerson & Nieman Realtors, Virtus Capital Partners, Custom Concrete and Floski Law, LLC.

Rotary Club of Byron will spend the next year looking for ways to honor the generous donations of our sponsors throughout the community. They would love to hear your ideas on how Pot of Gold sponsorship donations can be used – check them out on Facebook at Rotary Club of Byron and share your thoughts!