Remembering the Lost Canso, perched on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, has been a maritime community since the 1600s. Lighthouses dot the rocky terrain along Nova Scotia’s shoreline. In this small fishing community, many residents rely solely on the sea for their livelihood. But they know the waters that surround them can take as much as they give. “We know the human costs associated with fishing,” says Canso Lion Ray White. Lions keenly recognize its power. Several of them are commercial fishermen or have family members involved in the industry. “We’ve all had friends or relatives who’ve been lost at sea,” White explains. Canso Lions constructed a $10,000 Seamen’s Memorial in 1976 to honor those who’ve died in the water, but they wanted to do more. In 1989, Lions waged a successful campaign in the province to declare the second Sunday of each August as Seamen’s Memorial Day. White works with clergy and fishing groups to identify those lost at sea, and their names are read during an annual interfaith memorial service Lions host that attracts hundreds. Two weeks later, a flotilla of boats takes the numerous donated floral wreaths out to sea to mark the lost lives. “The service is a link with our marine heritage. It’s also a reminder of Lions’ link to our community,” says White. Lions not only built the ship-shaped memorial, they also still maintain it and the flower gardens planted at the peaceful site. When the memorial needed recent work, Lions spent $10,500 for its restoration. The club recouped all the costs from grants and from the community including $400 from a fisherman who sold his haul of shrimp to make a donation. Where Dinner is More than a Meal It all started with six turkeys. A Wasilla Lion in Alaska was given the turkeys and didn’t know what to do with them. He asked the owner of a restaurant where the club met if he’d cook and serve them to people who had nowhere to go for a Christmas holiday meal. More than 60 people showed up for that first dinner 23 years ago at a senior center. Last year, members of the Houston and Wasilla Lions clubs and other volunteers served 2,900 people at the Lions Christmas Friendship Dinner. It’s currently held in a huge city-owned sports center in Wasilla with a commercial kitchen, says Elsie O’Bryan, a Houston Lion who joined the club after volunteering for years at the dinner, now grown so large that it’s sponsored by Lions, the city and another agency. While the dinner is free, O’Bryan points out that all diners aren’t poor. “Some are just lonely. One time we had a father and his twin teenage boys volunteer. They washed dishes all day. We later learned that the man’s wife had passed away just a few days before Christmas. They couldn’t bear to be home and they were too sad to be in the middle of all the festivities. They found comfort just washing dishes together,” O’Bryan recalls. “Last year, we had helpers from the age of 4 to 97,” she says. Around 400 people helped Lions prepare literally tons of food including 700 turkeys, 500 hams, 300 pies and 2,000 cookies. Volunteers have included politician Sarah Palin and members of her family. “Even the Rotarians pitch in to clean up,” O’Bryan cheerfully points out. Pancakes—with a Side of Pickled Cabbage, Please Mel Fernandez says Lions don’t slip a “magic potion” into the eggs or pancake batter every year at their breakfast fundraiser. Seattle First Hill Lions in Washington do, however, know their ethnically diverse community. They should. Club members have been flipping pancakes for 60 years. “People keep coming back year after year. Publicity is mostly word-of mouth,” he says. Along with the usual pancakes and eggs, Lions serve rice, tsukimono (Japanese pickled cabbage), and Portuguese sausage to please the area’s Asian, Latino and Portuguese residents. Chartered in 1954, the club is composed primarily of second-and third-generation Japanese and Chinese members who serve the Chinatown/ International District and First Hill neighborhoods. The district’s original residents were predominantly Japanese, Filipino and Chinese immigrants. Following the Vietnam War, refugees from Southeast Asia assimilated into the district, says Fernandez. “We flipped about 2,000 pancakes, served 1,200 cups of coffee, 225 dozen eggs, 75 pounds of ham and went through 14 cases of sausage last year,” says Fernandez. The club raised nearly $11,000, divided between a nursing home and the Kawabe Memorial House for low-income seniors. Additionally, a bake sale was held in conjunction with the breakfast and that raised another $3,400. Bake sale proceeds helped provide eyeglasses and hearing aids to community members in need. “We try to improve the living conditions in the district and improve the quality of life for people. We have an elderly population and many widows and widowers who can’t afford to move away, so we support a senior nutrition program and a food bank. We do what we can for them.” Leos Ramp Up Service Fruitport Leos in Michigan learned that resident Brenda Hosington was homebound because of multiple sclerosis. She had no funds to pay for a wheelchair ramp for her home. The club immediately organized recycling drives to raise money for materials and an anonymous donor gave funds. Leos surprised Hosington at home during the Christmas holidays by caroling at her door and giving her a card that detailed how they planned to build a ramp so that she could regain some mobility. Spring arrived, and 10 Leos and eight Lions worked together to build the ramp with discounted lumber. Leos also pitched in to rake and clean her yard of debris, which she hadn’t been able to do for several years. Fruitport Leos now plan to build one ramp a year for homebound residents of their community. Adviser Lion Heidi Tice says that Leos in the year-old club have opened her eyes to service possibilities. She says she originally thought students would join the Leo club in order to receive recognition when applying for colleges. “What I found is that all the kids have very different and very personal reasons for wanting to join. This first year has been amazing for me,” Tice points out. Colorful Competition Brings in Cash Cars—stock, custom, modified, chopped, flamed, tubed and shaved—helped the 40-member Spring Branch Bulverde Lions Club in Texas raise $17,000 from its second Roar for Kids car show. “Part of the show’s draw is that we make it a family event,” says President Larry Sunn of the event held in a church parking lot. All show profits go to projects that benefit children including the Texas Lions Camp and St. Jude’s Ranch for children. A Cub Scout Pinewood Invitational Derby draws a big crowd in the church auditorium while another 1,000 or so people check out cars. Lions provide 75 pinewood car kits for kids who aren’t Scouts to build onsite and race later that day. “We let any former pinewood derby car builder come race their cars in a ‘vintage’ open class. We’ve had racers who bring in their cars in an old beat-up shoebox, a car they probably built 40 years ago,” Sunn says. “It looked like a rainbow out there,” Sunn says of the exhibition. “We had blues, reds, purples, blacks, greens, golds, yellows and pinks. We even had a 1946 Chevy painted to look like rust.” says Sunn. Trophies are designed by Lion Patti Dawson, whose husband, Lion Gary, is a skilled woodworker. He builds and welds small metal car parts to create spectacular trophies. Sunn’s wife, Margie, is another awards crafter. “One thing about gear-heads is that they love showing treasures on their mantles,” Sunn points out. “We’re on the lookout for old auto parts all year long to build these trophies.”
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