Corn Fest a Community Winner in California Two years after being organized in 1947, members of the La Habra Host Lions Club were still searching for a major fundraiser. They found it after one member pointed out that since Southern California was home to so many transplanted Midwesterners fleeing frigid winters, a corn festival was the place to start. Sixty-one years and $2.5 million in funds raised and donated later, it’s one of the biggest Lions club activities in the state. In 2009, Lions made a profit of $60,000. “Initially it was a one-day community gathering that included square dancing, bingo and all the buttered ears of corn that one could eat,” James Schweitzer says. “It’s the highlight of the social calendar in La Habra, and has been expanded to cover an entire weekend.” Money raised helps support local sports teams, school groups, charities and pay for vision needs for people in need. More than 30,000 people attended the opening parade and stayed for the carnival rides, entertainment, raffles, merchandise vendors and contests. “We literally sold out of everything,” says President Vanna Sharp. La Habra resident and corn fancier Art Martinez chomped the fastest, beating all competition, including a pastor, Pop Warner football coaches and two high school cheerleaders whose eyes were definitely bigger than their stomachs, to polish off 11 ears of buttered corn (and nearly 1,800 calories) in eight minutes. Little Island, Big Club Saturna Island, a little piece of land at the southern end of the Gulf Island chain in British Columbia, Canada, is a remote, beautifully unspoiled refuge for wildlife and home to 325 inhabitants. Located between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, the island had been home to native First Nations peoples for thousands of years before Spanish sailors landed in 1791, naming it after their ship, the Santa Saturnina. Almost one-seventh of its population belongs to the Saturna Lions Club—it’s no wonder they like to call their community “the little island that could.” Nearly 20 years after a club was first established, Lions play an integral part of island life. The biggest fundraiser Saturna Lions sponsor is an annual wood chopping project. A coed team chops and delivers wood to islanders for an average donation of $200. Those who can’t afford to pay receive free firewood. The project’s success enabled Lions to make a sizeable donation toward the purchase of a new ambulance for the community. Lions started chopping and delivering wood in 1975 when they were offered some trees from local contractors who were clearing land, says Kathy Stonehouse. “Being community minded, Lions would check that all seniors on the island had wood for the winter. It has grown from there and orders come in all the time now.” Club members enjoy the physical activity and camaraderie of the wood chopping project. As Lions take care of islanders, they also take care of each other, reports Stonehouse. “It’s become a tradition that if a Lion is seen passing by the wood lot while other Lions are working, that person has to go to the store and buy cold drinks for everyone.” A club project takes place almost every month: a dog show, Oktoberfest, Remembrance Day Service, Santa’s Christmas Ship, Robbie Burns Dinner and celebrations of Mother’s and Father’s Day. Lions have also contributed to a salmon enhancement project and award scholarships to high school graduates. Tourism is the island’s big draw, but Lions are there year-round to help provide for the community. “It is well-known on the island that any resident experiencing a time of need will be supported by our club,” emphasizes Stonehouse. The Family that Cooks Together … Cooks Up Some Fun Lions in Middletown, Kentucky, think the secret to their success as a club is that projects often involve the whole family. Parents and their children enjoy spending time together, so they figure why not put that familial friendship to work? One activity that involves the family is the monthly Concert in the Park series sponsored by the city of Middletown. Lions (and eager young family members) don their caps and fire up the grill. They cook hundreds of bratwursts, hamburgers and hot dogs and serve them along with chips and soft drinks—all at no cost to concertgoers. Lions make money by being paid by the city for their services after being reimbursed for the cost of the food they purchase for the day. Last year, the Middletown Lions Club made $12,000 and this is the club’s largest fundraising effort. They’ve made as much as $3,000 per concert and have been sponsoring the cookouts for three years from April to October. The concerts feature a variety of performers and have included a Beatles cover band, rock and rollers, bluegrass, an “Oldies” band and area church choirs who sing gospel and worship songs. Because of the project’s success, president Kay Mills says, “We’ve been able to give back to the community and others. Family is key! The club is finding that family units are very attractive, especially if we do things geared for family participation.” Mills says that other “family” fundraisers are Bowling for Sight and a Golf Scramble, with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association, Relay for Life, Salvation Army, scholarships and other charitable activities.
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