Children and Parents See Better Together. Tucson Downtown Lions in Arizona believe that one of the best ways to help children learn to love reading is making sure that they can see words clearly. Ensuring that their parents can see clearly, too, is important so that they can encourage and help their kids boost their reading skills. Lion Karen Sell says, “Many students at Davidson Elementary School really struggle with learning—and we know that increased family participation tends to improve student performance. It seemed logical that parents who cannot see well would find it hard to help with reading or other homework lessons. “Because the families at this school tend to be very low income, single parent and recent immigrants, we could see that parents likely were not apt to spend the time or money on a vision exam and new glasses would cost too much. We also know that many of these parents find it hard to keep appointments at school,” she points out. A total of 89 percent of the parents fall below the poverty level and at least nine different languages are spoken at the school. “We decided to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse— free screening, free follow-up exams and glasses for those who needed them and had no insurance,” Sell says. “And we offered an incentive that the children themselves would want. By offering free books, we allowed parents to feel that they were doing something valuable for their children since many of them don’t own any books of their own. We figured the children would help encourage their parents to show up to get the books.” Books were donated to the children by Reading Seed and the local Friends of the Library contributed a book for each parent. Sixty parents made appointments to have their vision checked by Lions. Sell says that typically Lions see further testing required in 10 to 12 percent of those screened. “For this project, however,” she notes, “60 percent of those screened required follow-up care by a professional.” Ron Middleton, 2009-10 club president, says that the club’s annual budget for helping out at Davidson runs between $4,000 to $5,000 annually. The expense was higher this year because Lions paid for additional care and eyeglasses for Davidson parents with no insurance or means to pay. Local vision care providers discount services for Lions, who usually spend about $20,000 per year to pay for services for the entire community. Lions’ involvement with Davidson school goes far beyond vision screening for students and parents. They bring quarterly treats to celebrate birthdays for the entire school and they contribute time and donations before the holidays. They provide package wrapping assistance for the annual Davidson “holiday store,” where students can buy gifts for their parents and siblings with “Davidson dollars” earned for good grades, attendance and behavior. They give flags to first-graders and give each thirdgrader a dictionary. They also spend time with the students, giving classroom presentations on the flag and patriotism. After they donate the dictionaries, Lions stay with them to help teach them how to use the books. “The dictionary is often the first book these youngsters have ever owned. They are thrilled with the dictionary but we have to work to convince them that it’s all right to write their names in the book— that they won’t be punished for writing in it,” says Lion Lowell Fowble. “Some of these kids are a little short on fun at home, so whatever we can do to make their days at school more enjoyable just makes it easier for them to learn. Focusing on Sick, Lions Extend Helping Hand. Marina Hoskins of the St. John’s Health Care Lions Club in Newfoundland, Canada, describes her club as “hands-on.” That may be an understatement because Lions use their hearts as much as their hands when deciding how to best serve the community. They’ve made hundreds of Vellux pillowcases for cancer patients not only in St. John’s but throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. For those who have lost their hair to chemotherapy, the velvety soft pillowcases provide relief and comfort, says Marina Hoskins, a retired health care professional. The majority of members are current or retired health care professionals, which is a natural fit for their focus on helping those who are ill. “We give hundreds of hours to cooking meals for shutins, hospital visitations, sponsoring bingo games, doing our pillowcase project, raising funds for diabetes, the children’s hospital and LCIF,” she points out. “We do practically everything any other Lions club does but our dealings with the sick and lonely make us rather unique,” Hoskins points out. Chartered in 2001, Lions have received the district’s Humanitarian Award three times. Two years ago, she says, “The demand for pillowcases grew to the point where we found it difficult to finance the project, being a small club with limited funds.” They needn’t have worried. “All Lions clubs in our district came to the rescue and thanks to their generosity, our project continues.” Club ‘Greens’ Up Park. Earth Day is a bit of a tradition in Wisconsin. Now it’s its 40th year, the holiday began in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as an effort to increase awareness about the environment. For more than a decade, the Janesville Noon Lions Club has celebrated this day by working on a riverfront park in town. The club teams up with Leos from Craig High School and invites their families to lend a hand. The project actually takes more than one weekend and 20 cubic yards of mulch to complete. Even young children help out where they can by sweeping the sidewalk and raking mulch. The youngsters learn how fun it can be to volunteer. “The Lions motto of We Serve to me means that we need to be proactive,” said Mike Payne, the club’s 2009-2010 president. “We need to be involved in the community. We need to engage others to make this a better place for ourselves and our families.” The club cleans up the garden beds, removes weeds and mulches. They also planted new shrubbery this year. Located outside the library, the land is the only public riverfront property and is ready for a year of visitors after the Lions complete their annual work. Lions on a Roll with Popular Egg Hunt. More than 500 children shrieked and scampered through the historic and picturesque common of Templeton, Massachusetts on a quest for some of the 2,000 plastic eggs stuffed with candy by members of the Templeton Lions Club. “When the horn sounded at 10 a.m. sharp, these young and seriously efficient cleaning machines picked all 2,000 plastic eggs clean in a blistering 55 seconds flat!” says an amazed Keith Kent. “What took 10 Lions two hours to fill and package was immediately gone. The looks on the faces of the children were absolutely priceless. Our club wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
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