CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Lifestyle

May 4, 2014

Cullman Lions Club members work to make difference within community

The Cullman Lions Club is one of the largest service organizations in the world with 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs around the globe.

Their mission is simple — to serve their community and the world beyond. They are not limited to certain causes, although the Lions Sight is one of their largest projects. Founded in 1917, they are best known for making great strides in the prevention and treatment of blindness.

Locally, they make their presence known through many events and worthwhile causes, such as feeding the hungry, caring for the environment and aiding seniors and the disabled. They also encourage teens to be more aware of their place in the community by helping with the Leo Clubs, which offer scholarships for young leaders who have show initiative in their service to the community. According to the Lions Club records, a large sum was recently awarded to Cullman County schools for the purchase of equipment for the visually impaired.

You may have heard people talking about the Lions Club’s Ham and Fish Dinner, or the food drive in conjunction with The Cullman Times. These events help raise money for such worthy causes as the Good Samaritan Clinic and Cullman Caring For Kids Food Bank. According to Lion Javon Daniel, 4,900 families comprising almost 11,000 individuals were helped last year. Over 170,000 pounds of food, valued at $1.66 per pound, was distributed throughout the county.

Additionally, over 900 pounds of canned and dry goods were collected at the fair gate.

The Cullman Caring For Kids fund drive set a record last fall. Lions Fred Osborne and Dennis Berse, committee chairs, say that reflects donations from individuals, and proceeds gathered on a designated day at the fair gate. “Marvins was generous enough to allow us to park cars on their lot for the past two years at Rock The South,” explained Osborn. “The total from the parking proceeds was matched by the Lions Club up to $7,500.”

“We match the $10 parking fee so that Cullman Caring For Kids actually receives $20 per car parked,” Cullman Lions Club President Frank Odell, pointed out. The Lions will be parking again at this year’s “Rock The South” event.

Odell said the Lions Club motto, “We Serve” applies to each club and each individual. “Typically, the people who join the Lions Club are the type of people who want to serve their community,” he said. “It has been my pleasure to serve and learn with the Lions. Its fun, but mainly we do this to serve other people.”   

The Cullman Lions conduct local vision screenings, and work internationally through their Sightfirst Program, which seeks to eradicate blindness. The Lions also help to equip hospitals and clinics. Recently they donated to the Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation for general support.

The Cullman Lions Club currently has 112 members, and is one of the most active and well known clubs in the state.

In an effort to prevent hearing loss, diabetes and blindness, the Lions Clubs are working to ensure that everyone has a chance at a healthy life.

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions National Convention to become “Knights of the Blind.” Because of that challenge, the Lions are best known for their dedication to preserving sight and aiding the blind. Mop and broom sales are totally dedicated to the Alabama Institute for the Blind in Talladega.

At the present time, the Cullman Lions Club is seeking Type 1 diabetic children to sponsor for this year’s summer camp, Camp Seale Harris. This year’s June camp will be divided into age groups 6-13, which will convene one week, and Senior Week for ages 12-17, the following week. Lions club member, Rickey Peek, is chairman of this project. He can be contacted through the Lions Club website listed below for exact dates and more information. Peek, like other Lions, has worked hard all of his life and sees his participation in the Lions Club as a way of giving back to the community that supported him. “Cullman has been good to me,” said Peek.

The Lions have been busy this year as always. Their annual ham and fish dinner is a huge affair for the Lions. That’s a lot of fish, and it takes a lot of volunteers to make it work so smoothly. Among those volunteers are the Lionesses, who provide dozens of desserts. The intention of the Lions Club is to keep the net revenue from the fish and ham dinner inside Cullman County.

The largest undertaking that the Lions have committed to for over 59 years is the Cullman County Fair. “It is the only fair in the state to have been awarded ‘Best Agricultural Fair’ for four straight years,” said President of the Fair Committee, Richard White.

The fair kicks off with the annual fair parade in downtown Cullman September 20. This year’s fair will run from Sept. 20-Oct. 4, 2014. This year’s lineup includes country music artist, Johnny Lee, whose 1980 single “Lookin for Love” not only spent three weeks at the top of Billboard’s Country Charts, but went on to appear in the Top 5 on the Pop Charts and Top 10 on Billboards Adult Contemporary Survey. The song was featured in the 1980 hit movie, “Urban Cowboy.”

The fairgrounds belong to the county, but the Lions Club has leased the property for 99 years. To make it self-sustaining, the Lions rent it out to other organizations during the year.

The Cullman Lions Club Fair has been acclaimed in National Geographic as one of the top fairs in the country.

According to Lion Richard White, a substantial sum was distributed for scholarships for the fair queen competition. Entry information will be posted on the site below.

For more information about the Lions Club, visit cullmanlions.com. For more information on the Cullman County Fair, visit cullmanfair.com or cullmanfair0@gmail.com.

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