Keeping pantries filled for those in need is a top priority for Lions. The number of malnourished men, women and children in the United States and around the world is rising, according to the United Nations. Poverty and global conflict are the two biggest reasons families go to bed hungry. International President Sid L. Scruggs III believes strongly that Lions need to send out a Beacon of Hope during December and January to the more than one billion people in the world who suffer from hunger or starvation. In the United States alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declares that as many as 16 million children go without enough nourishment every day. We can make a difference in their lives by supporting international assistance programs as well as food banks in our own communities. Start small and aim big. If your town doesn’t have a food pantry, organize one. That’s what Broadview Heights Lions in Ohio did in 1987 when they established the South Hills Lend-a-Hand Food Bank. They feed more than 120 men, women and children from 45 families who need assistance. Club President Keith Gaydosh, who manages the food bank, says he’s seen a 30 percent increase in need in the last year as a result of the downturn in the economy. “We’re in a fairly affluent community, and to see so many people who need help now is really shocking. They’ve lost jobs and are having trouble feeding their families. Our program’s name is indicative of our efforts to ‘lend a hand.’ We aren’t permanent, but we help families for six months at a time to get them back on their feet or to support them in a down time.” The food bank is located in an annex of the city hall, and volunteers are mostly Lions who keep shelves stocked and serve families in four towns. “It takes a lot of volunteers and a lot of time,” he says. “We give enough groceries, including non-perishables, meat,Chicken and produce, to last families two weeks out of the month.” The club also supplies most of the funding and buys school supplies for children in the feeding program. Gaydosh, 31, says Lend-a-Hand is now serving as a model for other local community organizations that want to establish food banks. “We were shadowed for a month by another group trying to learn how we do it,” he points out. And that’s fine with Broadview Heights Lions. “A lot of people are in need now,” Gaydosh explains. “That’s why we’re here.”
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