By Eric Beuning, Correspondent
The chances are good residents have heard of a Lions Club, attended one of their fundraising events or visited a Lions park. In truth there are 15 Lions Clubs all across Morrison County.
Lions Clubs International will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017. As part of the celebration Lions Clubs everywhere are recruiting new members to help continue to grow the organization and meet their service goals.
“We’re in the process right now of planning our centennial celebration projects,” said Lions Clubs District Governor Duane Finger. “Our targeted goal is to help over 100 million people by the end of 2017.”
Over the years Lions Clubs have adopted the acronym Loving Individuals Offering Needed Service.
“We are fellow members of your local communities that volunteer to better the citizens in their communities and the surrounding areas,” explained Finger. “Lions are your neighbors who choose to help others in need, not themselves.”
On principle, the administration costs for all Lions Clubs are funded through membership dues. All money raised by the clubs through fundraisers and donations goes directly back to improving the community.
“All the money raised from the public, must go back to the public. The money each Lions Club raises goes back to the citizens of the community or special charities that the Lions Clubs support,” said Finger.
Apart from specific local endeavors, Lions Clubs also donate money and time toward projects like Leader Dog for the Blind, Can Do Canines for service dogs, Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation, Minnesota Lions Hearing Foundation, Minnesota Diabetes Foundation and the Lions Club International Foundation.
There are three Lions Clubs in Little Falls and many others throughout Morrison County.
The Little Falls Lions Club is made up exclusively of men and they conduct their meetings in the evening. Some of their more popular fundraising efforts include an annual rib feed as well as charitable gambling in four different locations. The proceeds from their fundraising help support the Boys and Girls Club, the Great River Arts Center and the Lions Park near St. Otto’s Care Center. People interested in joining the Little Falls Lions Club can call (320) 632-1550.
The Dandee Lions Club is made up exclusively of women. Their fundraising primarily comes from a nacho booth at the Arts and Crafts Fair, a basket auction and the sale of holiday decorations. Each year they purchase a table at Seeds of Kindness which benefits Habitat for Humanity. They also sponsor Girl of the Month and a scholarship for a Little Falls High School Senior. People interested in joining the Dandee Lions can call (320) 232-3707.
The Lindbergh Lions have both male and female members, including several married couples. They hold their meetings in the morning. Some of their fundraising comes from charitable gambling in two different locations on the west side of Little Falls, as well as a fish fry. They sponsor the Lindbergh Lions Complex, Christmas decorations, the eye bank and the hearing foundation. They are also working on a new west side hockey rink. People interested in joining the Lindbergh Lions can call 320-632-6349.
The Pierz Lions Club is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The Club has 68 members, including a number of young couples. They have several fund raisers including a fish fry at the Brickyard and an Oktoberfest held at the end of August. The Pierz Lions Club has famously donated over $1 million to the local community in its 50-year history. This includes two public shelters, a lighted ball park and summer youth programs at the local school. People interested in joining the Pierz Lions Club can call (320) 282-3085.
The Buckman Lions Club was started in 2009. The Club hosts several fundraising events including a snowmobile run, a food booth at Freedom Fest and they also adopt a highway. The Buckman Lions also work the Pierz Lions on projects like the first response team and helping the Pierz Senior Center. People interested in joining the Pierz Lions Club can call (320) 360-3829 or visit their Facebook page.
The Richardson Township Lions Club serves communities near Onamia. It makes monthly donations to the Onamia Food Shelf. The Club also supports the K-9 program as well as the hearing and vision foundation at the University of Minnesota. The Lions host several fundraiser events including an Easter egg hunt, memorial hotdog sale and an annual fishing derby held in August. People who are interested in joining the Richardson Township Lions Club can call (218) 764-3030.
The Ramey Morrill Area Lions cover a broad area. They host fundraising events such as turkey bingo, Easter ham bingo, French toast breakfast with a craft sale and pancake breakfasts. They sponsor programs like Food for Kidz, where they package and distribute nutritious meals to hungry children and their families. They also partner with other Lions Clubs, including Buckman Lions, for adopt a highway on Highway 25. People interested in joining the Ramey Morrill Lions Club can call (320) 355-2122.
The Royalton Lions Club is involved in many facets of the community around the Royalton area. The Club hosts fundraisers like Platte River Days, senior appreciation dinners and other food events. They sponsor take a kid fishing and meet the candidates. The Lions also built a shelter at the Royalton splash pad and sponsor the Ride for the Mind event for Alzheimer’s research. People interested in joining the Royalton Lions Club can call (320) 360-2439.
The Upsala Lions Club is closely connected with the Upsala school and surrounding community. Some of its primary fundraising comes from charitable gambling as well as a hog roast and corn boil the Club has hosted for the past 25 years. They contribute a lot of money to the Upsala School and host an Easter egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter. They also donate to the first response team that covers Upsala and Elmdale. People interested in joining the Upsala Lions Club can call (320) 573-2231.
The Sobeski Lions are a very active club that also works with other nearby communities. Most recently they partnered with the Swanville Lions to host an ice fishing contest. Their other fundraisers include a senior dinner with live music at the Sobieski Community Center, as well as a dance. Every year they have a snowmobile ride in the winter, a motor cycle ride in August and a Cancer walk in October. They donate the majority of their money to the Food Shelf, Lifeline, Relay for Life, K-9 Leader Dog and also sponsor a scholarship for a Little Falls High School senior. People interested in joining the Sobieski Lions can call (320) 632-8786.
The Swanville Lions currently have 75 members and have been in operation for 63 years. They donate vigorously throughout the Swanville area, including the local Boy Scouts, the Swanville Rural Fire Association and the Swanville Public Schools. They have several fundraising efforts including the ice fishing contest with the Sobieski Lions, the Mid-Summer Carnival and charitable gambling held at four different sites. People interested in joining the Swanville Lions can call (320) 760-0907.
The Randall/Cushing Lions are deeply connected to their local area and proud of the fact that every penny they raise goes back into the community. They donate to the local Food Shelf, the Lions vision foundation and hands of hope. Their fundraisers include senior bingo at the Randall VFW and a refreshment stand at the park on the Fourth of July. They are currently trying to recruit 15 to 20 new members to help them expand their service. People interested in joining the Randall/Cushing Lions can call (320) 749-2375.
The Bowlus Lions Club is currently in its first year of service. The 44 members have started setting goals for this year and years to come. They will host an Eggstravaganza Easter egg hunt at the Bowlus Community Center March 22, as well as a kickball tournament planned later in the summer. Members also have plans to donate a drinking fountain at the Royalton Splash Pad and intend to upgrade the Bowlus area ball park. People interested in joining the Bowlus Lions Club can call (320) 492-0212.
Morrison County also has Lions Clubs in Motley and Scandia Valley.
Every year the Lions Clubs of Morrison County are trying to expand their membership in order to better serve the community. Anyone who shares their passion for serving the community is likely to find an active club in their area.