DoTake Wooden Nickels Sharing Lionism, One Good Deed at a Time Lions are turning the old adage, “Don’t take any wooden nickels” on its head. In Michigan last fall, 5,000 people were surprised, tickled and moved to receive wooden nickels from Lions. The brainchild of District 11 E1 Governor Tim Anderson, the “5,000 Good Deeds” project built awareness about Lions, served as a feel-good, pay-it-forward campaign and planted the seeds for recruitment through a simple act: do a good deed, hand the recipient a custom-designed Lions wooden nickel and ask him to carry out an act of kindness for someone else. It’s easy to understand why other states and countries are now reproducing the idea, explains Anderson. “We were able to make lives better even for just a moment. This also gave the average non-Lion insight into what we do—helping one person at a time.” The Inspiration When Anderson heard a heartwarming story that happened in his town of Cadillac, something clicked. “A woman paid for a cup of coffee for a stranger in line behind her one morning. When she returned the next day, the cashier told her that her good deed continued for an hour, with each customer paying for the person behind them,” Anderson explains. Amazed, he began thinking about how Lions could use this idea on a larger scale to both spread smiles and share the values of Lions. The Plan Anderson decided to use a wooden nickel as a mode for paying good deeds forward. People would be directed to a Facebook page to share their act of kindness stories and learn a little about Lions in the process. District governors distributed 5,000 nickels to clubs, educated Lions about Facebook and promoted the campaign in newsletters. “The wooden nickel is one of our oldest forms of advertising. Social media is one of our newest, so this program can appeal to people of all ages,” says Anderson. Cadillac Lion Bill Shier noticed that more senior Lions were encouraged to try out Facebook. “It was an eye opener for our members who are older and were unfamiliar with social media,” explains Shier. The Results When the campaign launched on Sept. 1, Lions hit the ground running, seizing opportunities to make people’s days. “I helped a gentleman at the post office,” says Shier. Although Anderson notes that the Facebook tracking of the good deeds proved to be “a little disappointing,” the page has been viewed more than 1 million times and the number of “likes” is 400 and counting. Press coverage helped spread the word, but personal connections were the big bonus, giving Lions the chance to shine. Shier points out, “When I handed someone a wooden nickel, they would ask ‘What is this?’ It opened up a good discussion right away about Lions.” –Jennifer Gilbert Gebhardt Good Deeds Shared on Facebook “I paid for the breakfast meal for the person behind me at the drive-through.” “A little boy pushed an elevator button for a Lion. When he gave the boy a wooden nickel and explained what it was, the boy lit up and his mother beamed with pride.” “I dropped off a full box of nonperishables to help restock the food bank.” “On a flight I helped an 84-year-old couple remove their luggage from the overhead bin.” “A friend bought a birthday cake for a 55-year-old man. The man said that no one besides his mother had ever given him a birthday cake.” “I helped a friend ready his barn and barnyard for the winter.” “When I see someone do a good deed I’ll hand them a wooden nickel and thank them for their act of kindness.” Find more good deed stories at www.facebook.com/sassycamel. Email Tim Anderson at email@example.com to find out how to recreate this project.
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