Calendar Days Capitalizing on holidays brings publicity, new members When the leaves start falling and Halloween approaches, Bartlett Lions in Illinois know it’s time to don their favorite scary wear and hunt for eyeglasses during their annual Sight Night eyeglass collection campaign. But Lions aren’t just prowling the streets at night for recycled glasses. They’re also on the hunt for new members. Using specific holidays or calendar events as the basis for service projects is an excellent method for capitalizing on the social buzz that surrounds such days. In the United States, the streets of communities nationwide are filled with citizens enjoying their precious reprieve from work on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Halloween brings neighborhoods filled with trick-ortreating families, and Thanksgiving and Christmas see stores crowded with shoppers. Each event is an opportunity in itself for a good service project, plenty of publicity and the possibility of new members. The Bartlett club has collected thousands of pairs of glasses by inviting community members and businesses to a Halloween lights parade and placing eyeglass collection boxes along the parade route. And while the collection itself is successful, as Lion Anthony Troyke points out, using an event like Halloween is invaluable in getting people interested in Lions—which can mean new members. “We’ve used our Sight Night event in conjunction with Halloween every year, and it’s become a community event with a parade and everything,” Troyke says. “The project is great because it gets the families involved, but it also makes us very visible. People here know that this isn’t just a Halloween event, it’s a Lions event, and I think that’s what you want when you do a project like that. When you have that recognition and people are enjoying themselves, they want to find out how to be a part of it.” Getting face-to-face recognition is also the name of the game for Louisville West End Lions in Kentucky, who hold a Thanksgiving basket drive in the fall to provide a traditional holiday meal for those in need. Joe Tapper, the club’s membeship chairperson, says Thanksgiving is an especially poignant reminder of the simple things in life that many take for granted. “What I hear most still rings the truest,” Tapper says. “People who give to the drive say to me, ‘Boy, I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have a Thanksgiving dinner with my family and my friends.’ That thought really touches people, and makes them reach out, and they feel that reward of giving. I’m always there to remind them that our club is a great way to reach out and give the whole year round.” People in the northwest suburbs of Chicago pack Melas Park in Mount Prospect around the Fourth of July each year for the club’s annual Lions Club festival featuring a carnival, market, concessions, live entertainment and fireworks. The event enjoyed its 71st year in 2009 with an additional day of fireworks—and throngs of potential new members, says John Korn, the club’s membership chairperson. While the club’s festival is a large undertaking, Korn cautioned that other Lions don’t have to make a herculean effort to capitalize on the recruiting value of a Fourth of July holiday. “Our event is big, so we’re planning for next year’s as soon as this year’s ends, but there are other ways to get to talk to people,” Korn says. “I know a lot of clubs make it simpler. Just run a concession stand, and that gets you a lot of interaction with the public. You get to tell each and every customer where there money is going to, how it’s going to help someone. That by itself can get them interested.”
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