The popular annual fish derby for children in Centralia, Washington, is a community effort, and Lions lead the way. The club first took charge in the 1970s when Centralia Jaycees stopped sponsoring the event. The derby features a freshly-stocked lake. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife “plant” 6,000 trout, 2,000 jumbo hatchery “broodstock” trout and nearly 400 triploid trout that measure more than 18 inches long. Lions donate food and prizes and coordinate the support of businesses, says Lion Joe Dolezal. Lions cook about 600 hot dogs and provide 300 cartons of milk for the youngsters and free coffee for adults. Regardless of their fishing luck, all participants are part of a drawing for new fishing gear, water flotation tubes, caps and backpacks provided by merchants and Lions. Firefighters last year provided three new bicycles along with helmets that they fitted correctly for the excited winners. Additionally, the state’s fish and wildlife department awards fishing gear to the young angler catching the largest fish. “The total value of the food and prizes is well over $1,500,” says Dolezal. Communities Unite Amid Tragedy Last June a wildfire swept through Yarnell, a wooded community in Arizona. Nineteen young firefighters lost their lives, and 115 homes were destroyed. “Although few of us directly knew one of the firefighters or Yarnell residents, all of us in Lions clubs in the Prescott area [40 miles away] felt a great loss and really came together quickly to help,” says Kenneth Gantz of the Prescott Noon Lions Club. Prescott Noon Lions established six food collection drop-off sites. Also pitching in were the Prescott Sunrise and Evening and Chino Valley Noon Lions clubs and the Prescott Noon Lionesses as well as community volunteers. In one day, more than 30,000 pounds of food was collected along with $4,500 in cash donations. The Yavapi Food Bank received 15 tons of food from Lions. “I was overwhelmed at the amount of food that came in,” says Ann Wilson, the food bank’s director. “It’s great to live in an area where people care about each other with such a demonstration of love.” Lions also sold T-shirts, raising an additional several thousand dollars for Yarnell’s recovery, and two LCIF Emergency grants of $10,000 provided for medications, clothing, food and blankets for Yarnell residents. Gantz says, “Whenever we hold events like this quite often we get people asking about our club. Case in point: myself.” He transferred to the Prescott Noon Lions Club after visiting with Lion Paul Chastain at the club’s cotton candy booth during Prescott’s Frontier Days celebration. Lions are also well known in Prescott and beyond for their successful newspaper recycling business begun in the 1970s (April 2012 LION). Nests Welcome Bluebirds Seen a bluebird lately? Its population drastically declined in the last 60 years, especially in suburbia, as land was cleared for subdivisions, according to the North American Bluebird Society (NABS). The beautiful bird with a voracious appetite for bugs has flown the coop, so to speak. Greater Falls Run Lions in Stafford County, Virginia, are doing their part to make them feel at home again. Lions build bluebird boxes with rough sawn cedar from online design plans and instructions from NABS. The materials cost the club $7, but they sell a box for $20, a bargain compared to the $45 retail price. The club charges an additional $10 for installation, which includes a steel fencepost and screws to attach the box to the post. “This is more of an environmental effort. We don’t make a heap of money,” says Lion Jim Purton. The winged creatures are the primary beneficiary. The bluebirds are “beautiful, beneficial and very entertaining to watch and listen to as they fly about and feed in backyards,” he says. Lions Do Hands-on Preservation Weeds and debris marred a large stone memorial in eastern Pennsylvania that honored Moravian missionaries who worked with Native Americans in the 1700s. The Western Pocono Lions Club had the perfect volunteer to oversee its repair: Lion Jon Evans, a Native American history buff who joined the club in 2009. Evans saw to it that the monument was cleaned and beautified. He and others removed debris, planted flowers and trimmed bushes. Evans grew up on the edge of the great American plains in Iowa and read about the Plains Indians. His work in the Midwest and West exposed him to wrongs inflicted on tribes by the U.S. government, he says. The Moravians, a Protestant religious group that originated in central Europe in the 1400s, established several 18th-century missions in the colonial era, one of them called Wechequetank, where the monument stands today. Moravian missionaries were very often the first settlers that Native American people encountered.
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