They may not be professional cooks, but Monticello Lions in Iowa make some of the most sought-after sandwiches in the state. The club operates a food stand every year at the Great Jones County Fair, the third largest such event in Iowa. Originally starting in a tent 60 years ago with borrowed planks for seating and tables from a lumberyard, the stand is a top club fundraiser. “It can be a bit of fun watching us.” There’s no secret to their success, says Phil Larabee—just great food at reasonable prices. Plus, he adds, “Where else can you find people who aren’t in the industry working food service? It can be a bit of fun watching us.” Things may indeed get a little hectic back in the kitchen, but Lions don’t mind the heat. They manage to feed thousands of hungry people; overall fair attendance was between 80,000 and 100,000 visitors for the five-day 2009 event. Everybody pitches in for food stand duty, says Larabee. “All able-bodied Lions work two five-hour shifts during the week. We also have about 300 hours of labor donated by local people since the stand is a fair staple.” Lions sold 2,160 burgers, totaling 540 pounds of meat; 800 pounds of roast beef, 840 pounds of French fries, 600 hot dogs and 986 pork tenderloin sandwiches. The club netted $13,000 and all excess food was donated to Camp Courageous of Iowa. RAISING FUNDS Taking the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen They can’t wait—two little fairgoers try to sneak a peek at Lions as they juggle their kitchen duties at the food stand. Hendron Lions in Kentucky know how to get their community’s attention. A 15-year tradition of sponsoring a December auction televised on a cable channel for three nights has captured viewers with the banter and lively interaction Lions show on camera. “We joke and carry on about local businesses and those who call in and donate,” says Larry Hopper, president of the 14-member club. “It’s fun and the local people look forward every year to calling in and supporting our efforts.” The 2009 auction made $13,700, which will be distributed back to the community as Lions give funds to local high schools for “lock ins” on graduation nights and provide eyeglasses for those who ask for help, Hopper says. Beginning in October, Lions start canvassing local businesses for donations. “Business owners understand they will be mentioned on the air a minimum of three times and they must donate items or services of $25 or higher,” he explains. “We have new recliners, college basketball tickets, items from golf courses such as new drivers, fishing trips—you name it, we have collected it.” Lions discovered an even more novel way to continue the fundraising, Hopper points out. “We auction off the Santa hats we wear to make it a contest between the Lions on TV to see who can get the most for their hat. We’ve never failed to get a minimum of $500 for what we call ‘the’ hat,” he says proudly of their efforts. Lions also have corporate sponsors, who pay $500 to have their businesses advertised all three nights, which significantly boosts revenue. The audience shares in the onscreen fun. “We have five live phones and friends, wives, Boy Scouts all volunteer to answer them. Our grandkids join in as part of the program— everyone helps,” Hopper says. Lions believe in keeping things lively, and that helps spread the fun, which in turn leads to more people tuning in and picking up the phone to place bids. Firefighters in Temagami, Ontario, Canada, have a better chance of saving lives now that Lions have given them new and improved tools. “The new tools, designed to tackle the stronger, lightweight metals found in newer cars, will dramatically improve rescue services provided to residents and visitors traveling through the Temagami area,” says Temagami Lion Ed Riopel. Located in northeastern Ontario, the region is a wilderness vacation destination. Fishing and hunting are popular outdoor activities with many of the region’s tourists visiting Lake Temagami and Caribou Mountain, swelling the seasonal population. “When club members learned of the fire department’s aging, temperamental extrication equipment, the club committed to purchasing new, heavy hydraulics rescue tools,” he explains. Lions approached the municipality with a plan for $30,000 worth of rescue equipment to be given to the fire department at a special dealer’s cost of $18,000. The municipality agreed to fund the original purchase and Lions committed to paying back $3,000 per year for the next six years to fund the donation.
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