Holiday Magic Helps Food Banks For the last seven years, it has been the most eagerly anticipated event in the rural community of Whitemouth, Manitoba, Canada: the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train. The Whitemouth and District Lions organize a community celebration for the train’s stop, part of an arrangement they made with railroad officials to put their community on the destination list. The 14-member club uses the occasion to collect canned goods and cash for people in need. Since 2003, the train has stopped in Whitemouth, where Lions have collected 9,245 pounds of non-perishable food items and nearly $13,000 from residents and businesses. The railway line also annually donates to Lions; in 2009, they gave $1,000 to boost the club’s collection. Lion Amy Kirby says it looks like a scene from an action movie when the train comes to this town of about 300. Its population swells as families converge from nearby areas to greet the train. “For many, it’s the thrill of having a beautifully decorated train with thousands of lights stopping in our town. For our youth, it’s the performances of some of Canada’s best musicians who volunteer their services. For the organizers, it’s the joy of seeing several community organizations pull together,” she explains. After the train pulls out and the party ends, Lions get busy. They weigh the food, tally donations and then deliver it all to several food banks in the region to ensure happier holidays for people in need. Run Caps Campaign SightFirst II Pledge For three years in a row, residents of Waterman, Illinois, a town of about 1,000 residents 70 miles west of Chicago, know to put on their running shoes a week before Thanksgiving. The 5K Gobbler Gallop is sponsored by Waterman Lions to raise money to pay off their $10,000 pledge to Campaign SightFirst II, which was accomplished with the $5,000 Lions raised in 2009. Lions distribute prizes and serve apples and bagels to the hungry runners after they cross the finish line. “The weather was great, which I think helped make the turnout so huge,” says Karen Fenske, whose husband, Mark, is club president. “The club is fully committed to the event and everyone helps from parking cars to getting food ready to directing participants, manning the gear check area. You name it, they do it! We also have the support of the men’s basketball team—the best course marshals any race director could ask for—and the women’s basketball team—a great finish line team.” Runner Amy Affelt calls the race “awesome!” She told Lions later, “All of the little touches like the cute balloon arch with the turkey balloon at the finish, the band, the great door prizes … I had a great time and will be back next year for sure. But I really want to win a pie or turkey next time!”
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