Rotary and Dunkin’ Donuts are teaming up to eradicate polio – one donut at a time

Purple pinkie donuts by Dunkin’. Rotary and Dunkin’ raised $1.3 million in 2021 to fight polio. (Bluemont Group)

With the recent discovery of the polio virus in the New York City metro area, now more than ever, we need to redouble our efforts to eradicate this horrible disease

That’s exactly why the members of North Alabama Rotary Clubs and Dunkin’ Donut Restaurant franchises owned by the Knoxville, Tennessee-based Bluemont Group are teaming up to launch  “Purple Pinkie Donut Day” on October 10th.

Learn how you can help End Polio Now! by ordering Purple Pinkie Donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Buy Donuts – Help Eradicate Polio

(Bluemont Group)

Before we tell the story of how Purple Pinkie Day came about, first things first. Here is how the fundraiser works:

  1. Visit today!
  2. By October 5th order a box of 10 free Purple Pinkie Donuts for a $25 donation
  3. Pick up your donuts on October 10th, “Purple Pinkie Day” at a participating Dunkin’ Donuts near you

How is the money raised?

  • Dunkin’ Donuts donates the Purple Pinkie donuts. Last year in Alabama and Tennessee they gave away 47,000 donuts! 
  • Every dollar that’s donated to acquire the free purple pinkie donuts goes directly to End  Polio Now!, the Rotary fund for polio eradication. 
  • YOUR $25 donation is matched by Rotarians and philanthropic groups such as the Gates Foundation to the tune of about 7 to 1 or $187.50. Last year, they turned $170,000 in donut donations into a total gift via numerous  matches of $1.3 million!

“Thanks to the matching funds, a $25 donation turns into $187.50,” said Margo Hughes, a member of the Rotary Club of Knoxville and Director of Operating Services at Bluemont. “At a cost of $3 per immunization, one box of donuts can vaccinate more than 60 kids. Our teams work incredibly hard to get these donuts ready on the day of the fundraiser, but they are also so excited and proud to know how big of an impact they are making with these donuts.”

How the Purple Pinkie Program Started

Rotary polio
Dave Baumgartner, a member of the Knoxville Rotary Club and Bluemont’s President and Operating Partner—initiated the Purple Pinkie Program in 2018 to raise donations in conjunction with World Polio Day. (Bluemont Group)

Back in 2018, Dave Baumgartner—a member of the Knoxville Rotary Club and Bluemont’s President and Operating Partner—initiated the Purple Pinkie Program in 2018 to raise donations in conjunction with World Polio Day which is observed annually in October.

In 2020, Bluemont reached out to the Rotarians leaders in North Alabama and District 6860. Our local Rotarians are participating in their 3rd year with the Purple Pinkie Program.

Why Purple Pinkie?

According to Bluemont’s Hughes, the reason the donuts are called “purple pinkie” is because in developing countries, when they have national immunization days,  healthcare professionals put purple ink on childrens’ pinkie fingers to show that they’ve been vaccinated. Communities celebrate this because it indicates a future where those children don’t have to worry about polio.

Fighting Polio is in Rotary’s DNA, Especially in Birmingham and North Alabama

Freshwater Land Trust
Rotary Trail in downtown Birmingham. (Pat Byington / Bham Now)

Up until the most recent discovery of the polio virus in New York and Latin America, the general public thought polio was well on its way to being eradicated.

“Everybody thinks, oh, my gosh, we eradicated polio a few years ago, because we’ve got it down to basically Pakistan,” John Beard, Polio Eradication Chair for Rotary District 6860 which covers North Alabama. “Our concern has always been that as long as you’ve got one country that’s endemic, you’ve always got the chance of people traveling out of that country, spreading that virus.”

Rotary is now redoubling its polio eradication efforts from immunizing more children to opening testing sites and clinics throughout the world.

You can say fighting polio is in North Alabama Rotarians DNA. 

Dr. Leslie Wright, a former President of Samford University was also a Rotarian. As the first chairman of Rotary International’s PolioPlus program, he spearheaded a global campaign to eradicate and immunize against the infectious disease. Due to his and the  Rotarians efforts, more that one billion children received the oral polio vaccine.

Continue the Fight Against Polio

You can do your part by joining North Alabama Rotary District 6860 and Dunkin’ Donuts by making a purple pinkie donut donation by October 5th.

Help End Polio Now!

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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