A Sign of the Times Hannah McDermott didn’t even have to leave home to find fame in the world. In fact, she didn’t even have to leave her seventh-grade class at St. Mary’s School in East Dubuque, Illinois. From October to December, her name and artwork were plastered on a large billboard, 10 feet tall and nearly 21 feet wide, overlooking busy Highway 35. East Dubuque Lions have for the past 10 years honored the winning artist in the local competition. None have yet to win the grand prize in the annual Lions Clubs International Peace Poster Contest, but members of the club proudly recognize their efforts and promote Lions by renting discounted billboard space. The billboards are part of the club’s annual October membership drive. “The kids are so excited,” says Lion Casey Klein. “They look forward to it every year. But then so do we.” Klein says the billboard idea “just sort of took off.” Lions wanted to promote the club in the community and recognize the efforts of student artists. The highway advertising sign did both. Hannah McDermott stands beneath the billboard featuring her entry in the 2014-15 Peace Poster Contest. The seventh-grader's entry didn’t win, but it made Hannah a local celebrity. Hannah, 13 when she won the contest, was already aware of how Lions help others. Her grandfather, Ed Wagner, is a member of the Dubuque Noon Lions Club. When she actually saw the billboard with her drawing and name displayed, Wagner says she uttered only two words: “Ohhhhhhh … wow!” Amateur Sleuthing Pays Off in Kentucky No, the butler didn’t do it. A board member killed the company president. Ashland Lions in Kentucky have discovered that there’s money to be made in murder—theatrical murder, that is. They raised more than $8,000 by hosting their first dinner theater event called Murder by Numbers. The money will help pay for vision care and eyeglasses for those in need in the community of 21,000. As a professional acting troupe walked among the tables playing roles, everyone tried to figure out the culprit. “Even the actors themselves don’t know who the murderer is or who the victim is until just a few minutes before the show starts,” Lion Kevin Compton explains. Some of the audience sleuthed non-too-subtly. “People were so excited that a lot of them were just following the actors around, taking notes,” says Lion Alan Parrott. “Others were listening in on their conversations, but trying to blend into the background and not to be noticed. We’ve already been asked when we’re planning another murder mystery night.” The stakes were high: a new 55-inch flat screen television donated to the club along with raffle and door prizes. Since there were 23 correct guesses, Lions had to select the winner by a lottery. Actors and guests try to figure out the “whodunit.” Compton says Lions were shocked at how popular the show turned out to be: “We hoped to sell 100 tickets and maybe raise $5,000. But we had to cut off ticket sales before the show because we sold 140 tickets and filled all the seats.” The show was held at a refurbished train station dating back to the 1890s, with a wine reception and catered dinner before the start. Compton explains that he was too busy making sure the night went smoothly to try guessing who the murderer among the cast of nine actors was, but credits his wife with helping him correctly guess the culprit. Compton’s wife, Jerri, says she figured it out fairly quickly. “I interviewed them all and then tried to apply deductive reasoning. It worked,” she says. To (Con)serve and Protect Some of the new Leos in the James M. Bennett High School Leo Club sponsored by the Salisbury Lions in Maryland had never seen the wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay forest and salt marsh on the Chicamacomico River. Yet those 18 Leos were part of a 110-person group that included Lions and other volunteers who gathered to help plant 800 tree seedlings. “We have a very diverse Leo club,” says adviser and Salisbury Lion Bob Langan. “We have kids from all different socioeconomic groups and different cultures, and a lot of them had never experienced the outdoors like we did that day. They were fascinated by the water.” Langan says it was a rainy, cold day, but volunteers completed the work in only two hours. Leos plant a sapling. Lions and Leos helped plant native trees like sycamore, ash, maple and birch from 10-inch pots on a four-acre buffer farm property. The purpose of the project was to create a natural watershed as the trees mature to prevent nutrient runoff and protect wildlife habitats for federally-mandated endangered species including the Delmarva fox squirrel. Leos were the biggest volunteer group. There would have been more, says Langan, but another large contingent of Leos was helping Lions that same day at a fundraising breakfast. Just a few months ago, the club was down to a handful of high school students. “We [Lions] decided to reinvigorate the club,” says Langan. They invited students to visit Leo club meetings at the school and promoted it at school fairs and in classrooms. Now Leos number more than 50.
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