Ten Ton Toots Collects Coins, not Coal There will be no shaking of the Lions’ piggy bank in Coleman, Alberta, Canada, to see if there’s change inside. You can just assume that there is, and that when it’s removed, it will go to fund Lions’ projects. The Lions’ piggy bank is fondly called “Ten Ton Toots” because she was 10 tons of dead weight when the Lions got her as a way to launch their fund drive and build a new hall for the Boy Scouts in the 1960s. “Toots” is a retired mine locomotive born in 1909. Known to miners as “Dinky,” she hauled five million tons of coal from underground to daylight over 180,000 miles of tracks from 1904 to 1954, says Lion Guy Farano. A compound air locomotive, Toots used compressed air released into the cylinders to drive the wheels and pull up the 200-ton loads from the mines in York Creek, an underground mine south of Coleman. But Toots served her time, and when she was put to pasture, the Lions got her. She was craned onto a flatbed truck and then hauled to Flumerfelt Park in Coleman where the Lions cut a slot in her side and changed Toot’s collection from coal to coins. She may well be the biggest piggy bank in the world now, according to the Lions, who open her up every two to three years and collect from $200 to $500 in contributions. Visitors like to take pictures with her and contribute to the Lions, says Farano. And they can continue to for years to come. Anybody who decides differently will have to move her. Lebanon Lions are Heavy Hitters The Lebanon Lions in Indiana have supported their local Little League since second baseman Jackie Robinson was the National League’s MVP. That was 1949. Many young boys and girls have worn jerseys sponsored by Lions during the 68 summers since, but in honor of the Lions’ centennial, the Lebanon Lions decided to hit it out of the park with a Legacy project. They contributed $10,000 to the Lebanon Little League, not only sponsoring a ball team, but also allowing the Little League to replace gravel paths between ball fields with pavement, making the park handicap accessible. Lots of families spend their summer evenings and weekends at the ball park, says President Dan Fleming. “This will make it easier for a lot of people.” Chip Hunter, president of Lebanon’s Little League, says the donation allowed them to accelerate work that was on the five-year plan. “The walkways between the fields were fairly difficult to navigate, especially if you had a wheelchair or a walker, but thanks to their generous donation, that’s not a problem anymore.” Hunter says Little League relies on community support, and the Lebanon Lions have been “a loyal partner” for many years. About 600 boys and girls play in the Lebanon Little League each year, and many families enjoy the park. Even more came in last year when 14 teams from around Indiana arrived for the state baseball tournament. And this year they will host the state tournament for girls’ softball. When the paving was done, leftover Lions’ funds were combined with Little League money, helping them purchase another set of bleachers that were needed at the park. To top it off, Fleming says last summer’s Lions baseball team ended the season in first place. Kentucky’s Got Talent Greenup County Lions in Kentucky went looking for talent, and they hit a gold mine—so much talent that they’re digging deeper and doing it again. The club has traditionally sponsored a horse show every fall to raise money for scholarships and community projects, but interest in the horses was dropping, says Lion Cathie Shaffer. She suggested that they try a talent show instead, envisioning something local, something akin to the television program “America’s Got Talent.” Their tristate area of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, near Ashland, Kentucky, has already produced popular singers like The Judds and Billy Ray Cyrus. There surely had to be more talent out there, thought Past President Shaffer, who co-chaired the project with Treasurer Joshua Spears. “We didn’t know what to expect. But we really have some talent around here,” says Shaffer. “Bless their hearts, the guys didn’t know what they were doing. But they helped, and it turned out great. We also had great support from the community.” Performances were held at the John P. Stephens Cultural Arts Center in Raceland High School. Backstage help came from the local community college, and local music and theatre instructors served as judges. Shaffer says she was surprised by the variety of performers who took the stage. A “fantastic” 12-year-old contortionist, an 8-year-old singer, a Michael Jackson impersonator, some good bands, a gospel singer, a drummer and others vied for prize money of $500, $250 and $125, and Lions took in about $3,000—$1,500 of which provided scholarships to local students. “We’re happy with how it turned out, and we hope to make it an annual event,” Shaffer says, noting that another show is being planned for November. “It’s something we’re offering that nobody else is. And it’s a chance to showcase these people who might not have other places to perform. We’ve definitely got talent around here.” A Fine Day for Ducks and Research On any given day ducks can float down the Acushnet River in Massachusetts with no direction and no one judging their speed. But then the “Duck Master,” Lion Joe Costa, came along. In 2014, he suggested the Acushnet Lions sponsor a duck race to raise money. “I thought this would be easy, seeing that we already have a river running through the town,” Costa says. “Little did I know, it was not easy.” First off, where do you find 500 ducks willing to race downstream on Father’s Day? The Lions had to buy 500 rubber ducks, print numbers on their bottoms with waterproof markers, get the permits to conduct the race and contact the fire department to put up a dam that would stop the ducks from going too far down river. Nobody wanted them to end up in the ocean. But hard work and unexpected challenges were no deterrent. The Acushnet Lions sold 500 tickets for $10 each, then added an additional 200 tickets to please their sellout crowd. They put up a finish line dog house for the ducks to float through. On race day, Lions in kayaks had to scoop up the ducks as they crossed the finish line and rescue the dawdlers who floated off course and ended up in the rocks and weeds. Prizes of $500, $250 and $100 were awarded to the three winners, and merchants gave more than 30 gift certificates in prizes as well, helping the club make enough to contribute $5,000 to Lions Eye Research aimed at the prevention and cure of eye disease. When all ducks were back on dry land the Lions learned one more job had to be done. The ducks needed a bath if they were going to compete again the next year. So back in the water they went. The Lions sold 1,000 tickets, and prizes were upped to $1,000, $500 and $250 on the second and third years of the race, says Costa. Each year the Lions donated $8,000 to Lions Eye Research, and they expect the race to be an annual event followed by an annual contribution to Lions research. Costa is resigning as “Duck Master,” but another Lion is ready to take on the coveted title.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Service/2851709/430248/article.html.