What exactly is the Lions Club, anyway? - The Echo News
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What exactly is the Lions Club, anyway?

A look at Upland’s chapter of the international service group

By Marian Douglas | Echo

(L to R) Richard Wright, Susan Boyle, and Cindy Wright stuff bags of cotton candy at Airband 2017 for the Upland Lions Club

(L to R) Richard Wright, Susan Boyle, and Cindy Wright stuff bags of cotton candy at Airband 2017 for the Upland Lions Club

The Upland Lions Clubthe name can be seen on flyers advertising pancake breakfasts on campus bulletin boards or across

the front of cotton candy concession stands, like the one spotted at this year’s Airband. Students can barely go a month in Upland without stumbling across the name. Despite this, some Taylor students don’t know or understand what a Lions Club is, nor do they know what the Upland chapter does for this community.

“I think it’s those guys who ride those little cars at parades, but other than that I don’t know what a Lion’s Club is,” senior Katherine Fritzeen said.

Fellow senior Keri Kauffman had a similar perspective: “I feel like I’ve heard the name before, but I have absolutely no idea what it is.”

Lions Club International is a worldwide nonprofit organization with chapters in more than 200 countries. The mission statement for this nonprofit says the purpose of Lions Club is “to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions Clubs.” This mission statement, broad as it is, has inspired communities internationally to create their own Lions Club chapters.

“Most Lions Clubs specialize in certain service projects,” the Secretary Treasurer of Upland’s chapter Cindy Wright said. The Lions Club in Upland collects backpacks, runs Wednesday senior nights and assists with vision and hearing tests at local schools, among other work.

The Upland Lions Club began in 1945, and, for several years, it was a club solely for men. There was a Lioness Club for women. Wright and her husband Richard have worked side-by-side at the Lions Club since the club opened membership to women almost thirty years ago.

The Upland Lions Club has 34 regular members, many of whom are husband-wife teams like the Wrights. Members of the club come from all generations, and the Upland Lions Club has programs that allow high school and middle school students to get involved.

Wright named more than twenty events where a Lions Club booth can be found in Upland. Among these events were last year’s Upland Unity Festival as well as at the annual Strawberry Festival. At many events, members sell cotton candy and popcornlike they did at Airbandto support the club’s many activities. They also hold fundraising activities.

“With being a nonprofit organization, you have to funnel that money back into the community,” Wright said. “All the work we do is basically for the community.”

Much of the Lions Club’s current fundraising is going toward Upland’s 150th anniversary celebration, which will take place over Labor Day weekend.

The Lions Club has sponsored a Labor Day celebration since since 1947. Originally the members put on a rodeo. “That was really popular back then: standing room only,” Wright said. Now, they typically put on a parade and hold a community meal.

In order to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Upland’s founding, this year’s Labor Day activities will include much more than the average year’s festivities. The Lions Club also headed up the 100th and 125th anniversary celebrations. It will head up this year’s with the help of several different groups who will host events during the celebration, though most of these events are still being planned.

People have already made it clear which two events from the 125th celebration they want to see return, according to Wright. “They say, ‘Make sure the women wear those historical dresses and that we have a beard contest,’” she said. These crowd-favorite events will take place on Saturday of Labor Day weekend, which will be called Heritage Day.

Wright also hopes that Taylor students will take part in the event. She says students with ideas for booths, floats for the parade or entertainment should come by the next planning meeting on April 24.

The Upland Lions Club will continue to appear frequently on Taylor’s campus. Members were most recently at the Dining Commons for Take it to the Hoop on Tuesday, and Wright said they would be setting up concessions at the Backyard Bash on April 22.

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