Lending Hands for Literacy Lions in District 33 K in Massachusetts roll up their sleeves and use their hands so children can read with their hands. On a wintry Saturday morning, a dozen Lions and Leos endured an hour-long bumpy ride on a yellow school bus to Boston to the National Braille Press (NBP), a nonprofit that empowers blind children by improving Braille literacy. The Lions spent a day placing stickers with Braille versions of the words in “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” the Braille children’s book of the month selection. “After a few glitches and cries of ‘oops!’ we got our assembly-line technique down and completed 150 books,” says Medway Lion Dawn Rice-Norton. The day of service made for a reflective ride home. “We were all picturing the smiles on children’s faces and thinking about the possibilities that literacy will mean for them,” Rice-Norton says. The Lions were soon back on the bus for another day at NBP. Pajama Party Queen Reigns Over District California Lion Elizabeth Warren didn’t set out to be the “Pajama Queen” of District 4 L 4, but that’s how she’s now known for her enthusiastic collection of sleepwear for kids. After reading about a similar project in Texas featured in LION Magazine, Warren, a past district governor, wanted to collect pajamas for local children placed in Child Protective Services because of trouble at home. “I am convinced Lions have the biggest hearts,” she says. Harbor Mesa Lion Carol Van Holt explains, “She thought of how traumatized these children are by suddenly being taken from their home or school to be placed in a safer, healthier environment, but sleeping in a strange bed. To have a new pair of pajamas would be so comforting to them.” Warren approached other members of her Rancho-Cucamonga Community Lions Club and they planned a “pajama party” collection that is now an approved district project. When that club disbanded, she was happy to find that members of the Ontario-Upland Lions Club she then joined were equally supportive. The project is now ongoing in two counties and involves three organizations that help homeless and destitute families. Sleepwear ranging in size from infant to teen has been collected and distributed to more than 2,000 children in need. “These kids will have safe and comfy sleep, many for the first time in their lives, and Lions will have a part in that,” says Warren. “Clubs have spread the news in their own communities through newspaper articles and are now taking donations from the public and then bringing them to our district and region meetings,” she says. “Some, like La Habra and Pomona Host, are distributing the collections themselves. Occasionally I take donations of money, and the pajamas are then purchased by a ‘super shopper’ in my club and added to the collection.” The spirit of giving has spread throughout the district, Van Holt reveals. “When the young grandson of a Lion heard about the project, he decided to ask his birthday guests to bring new children’s pajamas for the collection instead of gifts for him. His request resulted in a total of 39 pairs for the cause,” she says. At Home in the Kitchen People who believe that doing something is “easy as pie” have probably never baked one. Chef Frank Zerafa, a member of the Ridgefield Lions Club, is a busy man these days sharing his expertise. He leads a group of volunteer professional chefs at the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver who teach students the fine art of pie making— starting from scratch. Lions sponsor pie-making events, and recently those chefs and 50 students produced 80 cherry, berry and apple pies. The 90-minute free event is open to the public. Zerafa and his team have so far taught 235 students how to bake a pie, says Lion Robin Espinosa. Each participant also receives a special rolling pin afterward. Other chefs have participated and traveled to schools in California and Pennsylvania, where Lions assisted them. George Espinosa, Robin’s husband and a past club president, says that initially the club was cool to the pie-making idea. “Frank kept working to bring the idea to fruition. He went on to persuade a number of chefs to participate and a local member of the carpenters’ union to make rolling pins for each participant. Ridgefield Lions buy the wood.”
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