No Waffling on Community Service Lions in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, believe in service—with a side of sausage. They’ve been serving up breakfast to the community about as long as their club has been in existence. Chartered in 1980, Lions soon began serving heaps of pancakes cooked on outdoor griddles as fundraisers. When the club switched to a new venue two years ago, the menu had to change, too, says Lion Eileen Schirer. “We couldn’t use our grills inside. Having our own waffle machines allows us to cook in front of our customers. They like that.” Another thing they obviously like: the toppings, which include syrups, strawberries, peaches, apple sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles, a big favorite with kids. It’s not just watching Lions juggle more than a dozen waffle irons as they made more than 1,100 waffles and grilled 180 pounds of sausage that made last year’s breakfast exciting as well as profitable. The club made approximately $4,000 and has now added a second yearly breakfast due to growing and vocal demand. Last year, Lions delivered more than just waffles to hungry patrons. They also provided vision and diabetes screenings and collected 405 books for a school and 53 eyeglasses. They also distributed Minnesota Lions Eye Bank and Donor information cards along with two membership applications to diners who liked the club so much they asked to join Lions in service. Music to their Ears Sixty years ago, the McKeesport Lions in Pennsylvania created a lasting reminder of their commitment to the community by building a band shell in Renziehausen Park. The park now has seven pavilions on its 258 acres, as well as ball fields, tennis, bocce and horseshoes courts, playgrounds and other attractions. The band shell remains the top draw, however, especially on warm Sunday evenings. That’s when residents arrive with their families, lawn chairs and blankets in tow to enjoy a night of music. Lions work with the city and county to feature top local performers in a series of free Concerts in the Park they sponsor weekly on starry summer nights. “We want even more people to enjoy this setting,” says Annette James. Lions are currently raising funds to pay for an eighth pavilion. They sell concessions at the concerts to raise the estimated $20,000 needed. “We typically get a crowd of around 1,000 to 1,200, but the crowd swells to more than 1,500 for the most popular groups,” says James. Those include a Beatles cover band and a group playing oldies. Lions not only pitch refreshments to the public, but collect eyeglasses and sell brooms and garbage bags. A main road runs behind the Lions Bandshell, which members keep free of litter by sponsoring work parties. The brooms and bags are also available for purchase year-round at McKeesport City Hall. Lions have been deeply invested in McKeesport since their club was chartered in 1922. “Our mayor is a member of our club,” points out James. “Other members include business owners, a nurse, a travel agent, a state senator and the city administrator, to name a few.”
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