Jim Ervin was just a few weeks into his career as a Lion in 1977 when fellow members of the Albany Lions Club in Georgia, USA, tapped him for an important job: selling brooms and mops to raise funds for the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation.
“We’d go around knocking on doors,” recalled Ervin, who became international president in 1999. “It was advertised through the radio and TV when the Lions were coming. So many people would wait until that time to buy their brooms and mops.”
Community spirit flourishes as neighbors come together at Lions fundraisers from pancake breakfasts and barbecues to fish fries and sausage roasts. Some local Lions projects have developed into full-scale national programs that raise millions of dollars annually. Consider the humble fruitcake, which entrepreneurial Lions in Australia, Canada and South Africa have turned into gold.
Selling Lions fruitcakes during the Christmas season began in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1951. Initially baked at home and sold to family, friends and neighbors, Canadian Lion fruitcakes are now produced by large commercial bakeries, packaged with holiday colors and the Lions emblem, and marketed over the Internet.
Starting in 1965 with the Lions Save-Sight Christmas Cake, Australia’s program has become a cherished holiday tradition. Under the direction of the National Cake Committee, the product line has expanded to include Christmas puddings, and annual sales have grown to more than 6 million Australian dollars.
From raffles to rubber duck races, Lions have also shown a flair for special events that bring communities together and keep the fun in fundraising. Lions held a benefit elephant soccer tournament in Nepal and dressed up as Smurfs—donning blue face paint and fuzzy blue coveralls—for a canoe race in Epping, New Hampshire, USA.
Selling items that people need, such as brooms, mops and light bulbs, not to mention items that people crave, such as mints and candy bars, has been a staple of Lions’ local fundraising efforts for decades.
“Like they say,” said Ervin, “where there’s a need, there’s a Lion.”
Also in this issue:
In the Digital LION, watch a video of a Veterans Day parade shot by a drone, read stories from the LION vault and view the Higher Key Award recipients.
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Social-emotional learning has been proven to decrease problem behaviors such as bullying and substance use and increase positive behavior patterns such as self-discipline and conflict resolution. Lions Quest is LCIF’s social-emotional learning program (SEL), and the Lions of Multiple District (MD) 107 in Finland have successfully implemented Lions Quest. The Finnish government has recognized MD 107’s program as a leader in educational curricula for children, and the Ministry of Education and Culture even awarded MD 107 a grant to conduct teacher training workshops.
Local Lions’ involvement is key to Lions Quest’s success, and over the last 20 years Finnish Lions have raised more than US$6 million to support and grow Lions Quest. Since the first workshop in 1991, more than 16,000 teachers have been trained to implement the program in Finland. Eight certified trainers host teacher training workshops throughout the country. Teachers are trained to work in multicultural classrooms, focusing on diversity and addressing the educational needs of refugee children.
Finnish Lions have expanded Lions Quest beyond the traditional classrooms to focus on youth sports. Trained in much the same way teachers are, coaches encourage good sportsmanship, teamwork and conflict resolution.
Understanding that the needs of today’s students are ever-changing, the Lions also created a guide to Internet safety and cyber-bullying prevention. “Responsibility is Mine” teaches children not only how to keep themselves safe online but also discourages them from hurting others.
Taking the program even further, Finnish Lions have become global leaders in the research of SEL. In collaboration with the University of Helsinki, MD 107 conducted a study that showed that Lions Quest training is effective at building teachers’ ability to develop social and emotional skills in their students. This research was published in the European Journal of Social and Behavioural Sciences.
Lions leaders in Finland work with local Lions on Lions Quest, serving as an example of what can be achieved when Lions are committed to a goal.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of LION Magazine.
Lions and LCIF have greatly contributed to reducing the global burden of measles and rubella, but there is still work to close the remaining gap. There are more than 20 million children worldwide who have not yet received vaccination against measles and even more who have not received vaccination against rubella. Donate today and together we can reach out to help close this gap.
April is Leo Club Awareness Month! To celebrate and recognize Leo clubs, the Lions Blog will feature stories about Leo service projects around the world. Today’s story features the Penang City Leo Club in Malaysia. This Omega Leo Club was sponsored by Penang Host Lions Club over 30 years ago!
Each month, the Penang City Leo Club prepares and distributes food and drinking water to 50 homeless people. The Leos’ sponsoring Lions club (Penang Host Lions Club) finances the project.
“We intend to create awareness to the public to concern our society and people around us especially those are marginalized and neglected. Not everyone is lucky to be born into a stable home.We want homeless people feel that they are a part of our society. We share our project on social media, such as Facebook, every month and sometimes it gets people’s attention to chip in sponsorship for food.”
The Leo Club Program gives young people the opportunity to serve their communities, develop leadership skills, make new friends and have fun! Learn more about the Leo Club Program and find out how to start a Leo club in your community.
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