BYRON – Byron Rotary Club has partnered with the Byron Forest Preserve District to build a “sled shed” at the Preserve’s sledding hill: Children and families will be allowed to borrow sleds and saucers from the shed at no cost, so that everyone can enjoy the winter sledding season.
Donations of new and gently used sleds and saucers are now being accepted.
“The winter of 2020 was incredibly hard on everyone, especially children, and this winter might be difficult, as well,” Rotary Sled Shed Project Chair Emily Porter said. “Due to the constraints of the COVID pandemic, sledding has become a really popular family activity. However, also due to the pandemic as well as supply chain issues, sleds and saucers are harder to find.
“This project will help address that issue now, as well as provide an enduring opportunity for family time, regardless of family resources.”
Rotary first became concerned about the issue when members themselves had a difficult time finding sleds for their children last winter; social media was full of requests from parents hoping to borrow or purchase sleds. The idea for the sled shed was based on a similar project carried out in Janesville, Wis.
“When we approached the Forest Preserve with the idea, they immediately offered the resources of their woodworking club,” Rotary member Betsy Floski said. “This partnership worked out perfectly – Rotary raised the funds for the shed, and the Forest Preserve provided the talent.
“It’s a great community collaboration, the kind of synergy that Rotary is always trying to create.”
Building materials for the $2,000 shed were purchased with local Rotary funds acquired during past fundraisers, including the club’s annual Pot of Gold, as well as with matching funds from a Rotary Foundation grant. The shed is being designed and constructed under the leadership of Vito Iozzo and other Forest Preserve volunteers. Forest Preserve Director Todd Tucker and the Forest Preserve Board have agreed the District will conduct routine maintenance as well as off-season storage of the portable shed.
Rotary will be able to purchase a few sleds and saucers for the shed; however, since the COVID pandemic prevented the club from hosting its major annual fundraiser this year, Byron Rotarians are asking for the community’s help: New and lightly used sleds and saucers can be dropped off beginning today at the Byron Public Library, 100 S. Washington St., or at the Dickerson Nieman-Floski Law Office Building at 220 W. Third St. (Please do not take sleds to the Forest Preserve at this time.)
“Byron Rotary is excited to be partnering with the Forest Preserve and other community volunteers on this project,” Floski said. “We hope the Sled Shed will provide enjoyment for area families for years to come.”