Deployment Ceremony Celebrates Soldiers and Families Sending loved ones off to serve in a country rife with conflict hits military families hard. When more than 100 members of the Alabama National Guard’s Charlie Company (1st Battalion, 167th Infantry Regiment) were called to deploy to Afghanistan for a year, Cullman Lions helped host an allday party to celebrate their commitment to service. The club spent more than $1,500 on party provisions for 700 attendees. Lions were also part of a Charlie company celebration when soldiers returned from Iraq in 2008. “Two members of our club have been to Afghanistan in the past two years,” says James Howard, a retired National Guard officer. The soldiers’ send-off was especially moving for him. “What really brings things down to earth is seeing these young soldiers holding their babies in their arms,” he explains. Howard says things fell into place for the send-off party very quickly once word spread around town. The 112-member Cullman Lions Club raises money for the community by sponsoring the annual agricultural fair and selling mops, brooms and peanuts, “plus any other quick way to raise a few dollars,” he points out. “The community projects we help fund are mainly family-oriented.” Computers for Kids in Nevada Members of the Reno Cigar Lions Club in Nevada are distinguished from other clubs in their community by two things. One is their name. President David Dehls explains, “Some of us like to enjoy a nice cigar as we plan our programs. The strategy seems to be working pretty well.” The second reason is the ambitious project that the 27- member club is recognized for throughout the Reno area—refurbishing used computers for use by kids in need. So far, more than 1,250 computers and monitors have been given to kids and the organizations that serve them. Each computer is preinstalled with the Linux open source operating system, browser and office productivity software. Lions have established several drop-off centers for businesses and individuals to donate their unwanted equipment. Begun as a branch of the Reno Host Lions Club, tech-savvy Reno Cigar Lions have focused on getting computers into the hands of children as a learning tool. “Our program is directly in line with Lions’ sight programs,” says Dehls. “In today’s environment, a child without a computer is greatly impaired in his or her ability to succeed, both academically and recreationally.” Lions Ira Victor and Paul Reed have also found a way to raise funds to keep the program strong. They established a partnership with Google that generates funds whenever any Internet user in the world uses www.lionssearch.org as their search engine. Google donates a certain amount to the club based on the number of clocked banner ads. Reed says Lions make about $110 every three months from Google for this joint venture. Every bit helps to fund the computer giveaway. “We give about 25 a month, except in December when it’s 60,” adds Reed. Lions realize it’s not enough to simply put computers into the hands of disadvantaged kids—they need to know how to use them. Recipients receive training and snacks during a twohour session at a local public access television station.
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