American-flag program supports community causes




Sunrise Stars and Stripes Flag Program, a service project of the Rotary Club of Rio Rancho-Sunrise, is leasing flags to homes and businesses to celebrate patriotism this Memorial Day.

Customers can sign up to receive a flag for a business or residence. They can lease flags for one or all of the five major patriotic holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day.

“A couple of days before the holiday, this beautiful flag just appears in their front yard,” said Raymond McKinney, who runs the program. “We would have already come by and put a pipe sleeve in their yard, and just put the flag in that sleeve. A couple of days after the holiday, we go back and collect the flags and put them away for them.

“Then they’ll see another flag like that at Flag Day, and then Fourth of July. So, this flag just magically appears in their yard.”

McKinney said the only care customers must take toward the flags is to bring them into their porch or garage at night, because they are not supposed to be displayed in the dark.

Businesses are also encouraged to lease flags for the holidays. For businesses, Sunrise Stars and Stripes will put the flags up and take them down every day, so owners don’t have to worry about handling multiple flags.

Proceeds from leased flags support many local programs and activities, including DeGroot-Atkins Nursing Scholarship for Nursing Students, Rio Rancho Schools Student and Teacher of the Month, Sunday is Funday and Youth Exchange Program.

“Our Rotary club is one of 33,000 Rotary clubs throughout the world — so all of the proceeds from this go to support all kinds of projects,” McKinney said. “We do a big nursing scholarship every year — over $100,000 worth of scholarships for nurses over the past 10 years.

“We also support projects around town. For instance, we’re meeting later this week with Rio Rancho Police Department about their canine program — we want to help support police dogs.”

The flag program is also looking to work with partners that might need a fundraising opportunity. An organization like the Boy or Girl Scouts, or ROTC could deliver and pick up flags, and the flag program would then donate a part of the proceeds to that group.

McKinney said one of the most rewarding parts of participating in the flag program is getting to see the flags flying high in the sky — especially around Intel and Don Chalmers Ford.

“People will stop us when we’re putting them out or picking them up and say, ‘Hey, we love the flags — thank you so much for doing that.’ So, that’s probably the best part,” he said. “A lot of people really enjoy it.”

For more information on the Sunrise Stars and Stripes Flag Program and to lease a flag, go to