Tennessee Lions Celebrate Walking Horses Every year in late summer the Shelbyville Lions spend numerous hours over 11 days selling programs at the National Walking Horse Celebration, a horse lovers show that draws 30,000 to 50,000 people to their Tennessee town. But for the Lions, it’s more than a walking horse celebration. This annual event is a reminder of their club’s history. It was one of their Lions who worked with a Rotarian back in 1939 to bring the national horse show to Shelbyville, says Lion Katie Guthrie-Shearin, second vice district governor for District 12 S. And it’s the collaboration of these two organizations that helped the local economy immensely over the years, she says. Shelbyville Lions sell ads for the program and are present at the gates selling the $15 programs every day of the celebration. The money they make from the project—$25,000 to $30,000 a year—represents their biggest fundraiser and is instrumental in allowing them to continue various service projects. They conduct vision screenings in the county schools, provide eye exams, eyeglasses and funding for eye surgeries, make donations to Imagination Library and help with a backpack supplemental feeding program for schoolchildren. “We put it [the money] back out there about as fast as we get it in,” says Guthrie-Shearin. The club was chartered in 1922 and is looking forward to reaching its centennial, she says. In October, the Lions were honored to be the Shelbyville Chamber of Commerce member of the month. To U.S. Soldiers From Grateful Lions The Overland Park Host Lions in Kansas are in their 10th year of sending “Shoe-boxes for Soldiers” to deployed service men and women. This year they shipped 66 boxes—one box for every soldier—to the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron stationed at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Although the Lions call them shoeboxes, the containers are really flat rate postage boxes from the U.S. Postal Service. Included in each box are personal grooming items, snacks, puzzle books, magazines and DVDs. The items are contributed by club members, church groups, private individuals and students. What the club doesn’t get, they purchase. “It’s a fun project and a community project as much as a Lions’ project because a lot of donations come from people, some who have or had people overseas,” explains Lion Margy Sundstrom. “This is the one project that pretty much everyone in the club gets behind and gets excited about doing.” The club’s Avenue of Flags project, putting up more than 400 flags for patriotic holidays, is their other sign of support for the military. In response to this year’s shipment, Lt. Col. Dustin Richards, commander of the squadron, sent a photo and wrote a letter to the Lions. “It was great to get that last boost of morale from the U.S. and to know there are men and women all over that are thinking about us,” he wrote. “We truly appreciate the efforts you and your fellow Lions take to make life a bit better for our service men and women deployed in harm’s way.” Rolling is the Trickiest Part “Lefse, as many of you know, is the finest food known to humankind,” says proud Norwegian and Past District Governor Marian Johnson, a Prairie Rose Lion in North Dakota. But for those of you who don’t know, lefse is a soft flatbread made from a potato dough. It was popular with Scandinavian settlers more than 100 years ago because its ingredients were easily accessible and inexpensive, Johnson explains. And in areas like Bismarck, where at least half of the residents are of Scandinavian descent, it’s still popular. When the Bismarck Street Fair comes around each autumn, people know they can buy lefse, freshly made or frozen, from the Prairie Rose Lions. Johnson says the club started making and selling lefse under a canopy at the fair around 2003. “It’s something we all learned from our grandparents,” she says. “I was only about 3, and I can remember looking up and watching my mother and grandmother doing lefse on an old coal stove.” But not everyone in the club grew up with those memories. Those who are new to lefse making are taught by others, and fascination with the process has even brought in some new members. “If I join, will you teach me?” potential Lions have asked Johnson. She responds eagerly, “Would we?” The lefse dough is rolled on a fabric- covered board into thin rounds about 14 inches in diameter, then flipped with a long, thin stick onto a 500-degree grill. After about 2 minutes, it’s flipped again. The trickiest part is rolling the thin dough, says Johnson. The Lions have also invited their children and grandchildren to come to lefse rolling sessions in order to keep the skill and tradition alive. And Lion Deb Ahmann’s seventh-grade grandson, Jayden, proved this isn’t just for women. He quickly became a lefse-rolling champ, spending three hours rolling the dough and becoming good enough to hold his own with any of the experienced Lions, Johnson says. Prairie Rose Lions had 450 frozen packages of three lefse ready to sell for $5 at the last street fair in September, and they expected to be rolling lefse to sell fresh and warm all weekend. “There are always people who want to hang around and watch. For a few years we had to explain it to people, but we rarely have to explain it anymore,” Johnson says. “You can see that for many people we’re touching their heart. Lefse is something special they remember from when they were little.” Going Once … Going Twice … Sold to the Mt. Pleasant Lions in Texas: one Talk-A-Thon radio auction, a proven project that’s been stirring up fun and making money for the community since 1956. Lion Rick Rajotte, the club’s auction chairman, says the club’s annual radio auctions have yielded about $18,000 a year for the Lions, but this year they set their sights higher, hoping to bring in $20,000 to use toward their projects. It started in 1956 when the Lions worked with the March of Dimes. Anyone who donated $100 or more was given a ride around the town square in a wheelbarrow pushed by a Lion. And the idea of the auction grew from there. Now the club starts well in advance of auction day, soliciting donations of items and gift certificates from businesses and individuals. The folks from radio station K-Lake 97.7 FM offer their time and talent to start the bidding, and the bank gives them all a spot to do business for a day. Before websites and cell phones, listeners had to bid on items sight unseen, basing their decisions on descriptions run in the local newspaper. But now cell phones and social media have made it so items can be viewed online before auction day arrives, and bidders don’t have to stay home near the phone to take part. They call on their cell phones and listen to the auction everywhere they go. And in the bank, it takes at least six people to answer the phones. Businesses also pay $25 for an on-air advertisement. One thing that has not changed, says Rajotte, is the wide selection of items up for bid. This year’s collection of more than 200 items included a chainsaw, $50 worth of animal food, custom quilts, a chiropractic pillow, a puppy starter kit and multiple gift certificates. Every auction seems to include one hot item that brings $1,000 or more, and this year Lions expected it to be a handmade Lion-built doll house that’s big enough for a child to be inside. “It’s a lot of work for those of us who put it together,” says Rajotte. “The day of the auction is organized chaos. But it’s fun.”
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