Carving Out a Community Park Most people in Jonesburg, Missouri, know who the Lions are. In a town with less than 700 people, the club’s 64 members represent almost a tenth of the population. During an expansion of Lions Park, they cut down a large maple tree, but the stump remained. That unsightly stump was turned into a work of art last year by a chainsaw artist. The intricate design of a lion and the Lions Clubs International logo together is now a much-admired showpiece of the park. “The artist did 100 percent of the work with a chainsaw,” says Heath Sellenriek. “No smaller tools were used during the carving, and it only took him one day from start to finish.” Lions own and maintain the park, which is the only one in town, says Sellenriek. “We installed a large new play structure plus a border around the entire playground and put in new pea gravel. Over a very hot weekend in July when temperatures were over 100 degrees, we installed the equipment ourselves,” he points out. “We were totally blown away by the generosity of the people in our town. Our club approved $20,000 of improvements, with us expected to raise $10,000 and the other $10,000 coming from our savings,” he says. Donations far exceeded expectations. “Even before we had the playground finished, we had people asking what our next project was going to be,” Sellenriek adds. Lions intend to build a pavilion and install new lighting soon throughout the park. “One thing we have found is that success breeds success,” Sellenriek explains. “Doing such a visible project like this has really helped our membership recruiting. We have added over 25 new members in the last four years, which for a town our size, I think, is pretty impressive.” The town of Jonesburg may be on the small side, but the Lions think big when it comes to community service. Tools for School in California Every year when school starts again, children and their parents in Harbor Mesa, California, find themselves searching for the essential supplies that will help them receive a quality education. Some families can’t afford even basic items like pencils, paper, scissors, note cards and glue—things that first-graders all need to begin their schooling. Lions step in to help them by giving 200 boxes filled with all the necessary provisions they’ll need. First-grade teachers give a list of necessary provisions to Harbor Mesa Lions, who purchase not only supplies but also plastic boxes in which to hold them. “The cost of the project varies year to year as the amount of boxes needed varies,” says Lion Carol Van Holt. In 2012 the cost was approximately $5 per box. “We try to buy in bulk or at sales, but purchase the brands that teachers prefer and not the generic type,” she explains. “The kids who receive them are for the most part shy and overwhelmed. Teachers tell them they’re going to get school supplies from Lions to prepare them, but when they see the boxes stacked and they’re handed to them, it’s obvious they’re very excited. The look on their faces speaks volumes.” Lions identify every box as a gift from Harbor Mesa Lions with a label that shows a picture of a lion. Club members then personalize each one with a child’s name before they’re distributed. “Several children said it was like Christmas,” Van Holt adds. Lions are also collecting books for school libraries and plan to begin reading to students. You Want Fries with That …? Lions in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, know the secret to making French fries that sell out faster than they can make them. They should be experts by now since they’ve been making and selling fries for 50 years at the Solanco Fair in their rural agricultural community. In 2012, Lions netted $15,000 from the three-day event. “We turned last year’s annual event into a ‘world’s fair’ in Quarryville,” says Lion Roxanne Todd. “Exchange students from four different countries helped dish up some of the 10,800 pounds of potatoes that we turned into French fries. The students were in the United States as part of the AFS [American Field Service] exchange program.” A volunteer who also helps a local church group suggested the students lend a hand to Lions and the teens were eager to help. “The Solanco area is mainly a rural community located in southeastern Pennsylvania adjacent to northern Maryland,” explains Todd. “We do the ‘normal’ things like support our local blind association, pay for eyeglasses and computer software/hardware for those who are sight impaired and support a local fuel fund to help the poor. “While there are commercial exhibitors at the fair, there are no commercial sales allowed. That’s why the Quarryville and Wakefield Lions clubs have fundraising stands there. The two clubs work closely together and even share a refrigerated trailer so we can both better serve our community.” Lion Robert Black says he was “stunned by the girls’ willingness to help. What an honor to have a team from four different countries help serve our community.” He wasn’t the only one to take away something from the students’ international service. Atittan Songpattenasilp of Thailand says she, too, learned something by volunteering with Lions. “It’s a new experience. I really enjoyed it.” She also took away a taste for the chicken strips sold by Wakefield Lions. “They tasted the best,” she declares. Russian Valeriya Golybeva disagrees: “I like the French fries.” She adds that she enjoyed the whole fair experience. “It’s small, but you can meet a lot of friends here. You feel like you’re a part of this,” she explains. And by the way, the secret to those hundreds of pounds of tasty French fries? It’s pre-frying them first in peanut oil. “We have many, many people tell us that the only reason they come to the Solanco County Fair is because of the Quarryville Lions’ French fries,” Todd declares.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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