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Guest column: Lions serve
Guest columnist

Donna Hoke,

Guest columnist

Who are the Lions and what do we do? As a non-profit, 501c3 organization, our mission is to serve our community, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace, and promote understanding of all peoples. Our motto is “We Serve”. I’d like to share some history of the organization, as well as our local club activities.

The five global causes of the International Lions Club are diabetes, vision, hunger, environment, and childhood cancer. Locally our club has focused on these areas of service: vision, hunger, scholarship, 1st Responder recognition, and support of community events such as Trunk or Treat, Seafood Festival, and Christmas Festival.

Lions are known throughout the world for their work to improve the lives of the visually impaired and prevent avoidable blindness. Annually, our club provides local schools with vision screenings using the Welch Allyn Screening Instrument. This instrument automatically captures an image from a noninvasive, 3-foot distance. This image identifies if there is a need for a more in-depth vision exam, which the school nurse communicates to the parent. In addition to screenings, the club can provide a vision exam and glasses assistance to needy individuals in collaboration with Low Country Eye Care. You have probably seen our glasses collection boxes in businesses throughout the community. The glasses collected are forwarded to the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation where they are repurposed for visually impaired individuals around the world.

The Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind is a program our club supports through charitable donation and by sponsoring a visually impaired student to attend the camp annually. This residential camp is in Waycross, Georgia, where activities include swimming, arts and crafts, horseback riding, and canoeing. Visually impaired student referrals to attend the camp may be made through our email address listed below.

We have served as volunteers in local hunger relief during the pandemic in Bryan County through the “Farmers to Families Food Box Drop” in collaboration with the United Way. Members are also volunteers in the Food for the Soul Soup Kitchen, an ecumenical program serving a nutritious meal to the hungry in our community A special project of our club is to recognize excellence in our students through serving as a sponsor to the STAR Student/ Teacher at the Richmond Hill High School and by providing the Star Student with a monetary grant. The club annually provides a senior at the High School a scholarship award based on financial need, academic excellence, and community involvement. Students complete an application and interview as part of the selection process.

One of our goals is to recognize those in our community that go beyond the call of duty. Last year we provided Christmas dinner at first responder locations. This year we worked with the City and County to proclaim May as 1st Responders Month. We honored them with a dinner including government and emergency services guests.

One of our recent service opportunities was to provide our local library with a temporary location during the renovations of their building. Considering the needs of our club and at the same time acting to help our friends at the library continue service was the combined effort of club members and library personnel.

Fundraising is always a challenge for a service organization. You may have seen us at one of our roadside broom sales. This year the Enmarket Arena provided us with a tremendous fundraising opportunity – Lions serve as concessions volunteers at arena events and in return receive a donation of a percentage of the receipts plus tips. Please support us if you see us in our yellow Lions vests working at the arena.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.35 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Because we’re local, we can serve the unique needs of the communities where we live. And because we’re global, we can address challenges that go beyond borders.

If you are a service-minded individual, we would love to have you join us! Through membership you will help your community, make an impact on people’s lives and have fun and fellowship with fellow Lions.

Please email us at . We meet the fourth Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. with a meal provided. Meetings are held at our Club House, the Burnard Exley Building, 55 Bass Drive, Richmond Hill, Ga. 31324. Our current President is Tommy Brookshire.

Hoke is secretary of the Richmond Hill Lions Club.

Donna Hoke
Donna Hoke
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