Lions Proudly Serve Wounded Vets Publicity “was the furthest thing from our minds when we put on this fundraiser [Salute Our Wounded Heroes],” says Gary Wenter of the Caruthers Lions Club in California. “But it never hurts to show what Lions can and will do.” Three neighboring clubs in central San Joaquin Valley— Caruthers, Easton and Riverdale—did indeed show what Lions working together can achieve. Their first joint project raised $110,000 for wounded soldiers and their families. The money was donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which gives scholarships and support to children of soldiers killed in the line of duty, and to Homes Fit for Heroes, an organization that provides quality housing for soldiers and their families as they undergo intensive rehabilitation after suffering battlefield injuries. The clubs sponsored a dinner, dance and auction, selling tickets for $50 each and corporate sponsorships. “Salute Our Wounded Heroes quickly sold out without any media advertising,” says Wenter. “There is a long history of military service from these small valley towns and a deep appreciation of those who serve in the military. Caruthers has the distinction of two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients listed at the top of the Veterans Memorial located on the edge of town. “The Lemoore Naval Air Station, the largest air base on the West Coast, is only 10 miles south of Riverdale. Easton, the town closest to Fresno, has a large veteran population always ready to help when needed. By combining their strengths, the three Lions clubs felt we could do the most good in giving back to those who have given so much.” Close to $35,000 alone was raised by the generous support of sponsors and donors, and the live and silent auctions brought in an additional $34,000. After listening to a talk given by a wounded soldier, one member of the audience made a $10,000 donation. Wenter says he was not surprised that so much money was raised. “Our communities are all small farming towns— none have a stop light or even a stop sign on their main streets. None have their own police force or city council,” he points out. “In fact, none of the three has a population of more than 2,000 residents. As a result, the three townships tend to rely on their respective Lions clubs for support for a wide range of needs. Our communities have the reputation for really stepping up for good causes.”
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