Posted by Nancy Lindley on Aug 04, 2019
At the end of each meeting of CMIRC we have a raffle where the winner has a choice of several "valuable" prizes on display, donated by members.  If the winner is lucky the prizes on offer may include a bottle of wine or spirits, an interesting book or a nice voucher to a good restaurant.  Some prizes, such as those in the category of "home decor" and "local handicrafts" could be welcome by some winners, depending on their taste and aesthetic.  But, there is always one prize that causes most contest entrants to groan -- the ever-present can of Spam.  
Do you realize how rare Spam is in Thailand?  Once, multiple varieties of Spam graced the shelves of food stores throughout the country, but as Thai tastes changed the manufacturer of the product decided not to offer Spam in the country.  For a time last year, there was no Spam to be found in Thailand, but then, magically, a long lost shipping container was found on the docks in Laem Chabang and suddenly every food store in Thailand had Spam Hot & Spicy on its shelves.  No matter that the expiration date was just a few months away in June 2019.
I purchased the two cans on offer at the convenience store in our condo building and contributed one to the CMIRC raffle prize stash, holding the second in reserve for a future CMIRC raffle.  Somehow no one claimed it and soon the June expiration date arrived.  I removed it, but at the next meeting found members reluctant to purchase raffle tickets (2 for 200 baht, or -- special deal -- 5 for 400 baht), claiming they'd lost interest in the raffle because the Spam was gone.  So, I decided to return Spam to the raffle, knowing that it had been stored in ideal conditions and would be good long after the expiration date. 
We've done much good with the raffle income over the years.  Each quarter, the raffle income goes to a different recipient, with Rotary International Foundation's Polio Plus receiving income from raffle sales during the first quarter of the Rotary year.  For the past two years, we've given the income from a quarter to support Nong Sa, a student residing at Warm Heart Foundation.  
Each quarter, the raffle yields about 10,000 - 15,000 baht and is used to support local groups improving life for children and families and northern Thailand and Myanmar.  Recipients have included:  WE Women, Stratton ABC Foundation, Karen Women's Organization, Jen's House, Toys for Thailand for playground equipment, Mae Tao Clinic to fund GED expenses, and one month of transport for patients and families coming to the Burma Children Medical Fund's B.K.Kee Patient House in Chiang Mai from Mae Sot.
We've just embarked on a new Rotary year and the CMIRC Board is open to nominations for recipients for the raffle income of 2019-2020. 

Meanwhile, if you plan to visit the club from overseas, consider bringing a can or two of Spam to donate to the raffle.  A word of warning -- pack it in your checked luggage.  A friend of Rotary tried to bring a can in his carry-on luggage and discovered that because it had a pull-top lid, it was considered a potential deadly weapon by TSA.  Instead of giving it over to them, he opened the can of Spam and ate as much as he could handle before putting it in the trash.  
Check out this amusing video from the U.S. Consulate-Chiang Mai as two of their Thai employees eat Spam for the first time: