Celebrating 75 years of community service
Ever since 1945, when the Buffalo Lions Club was first chartered by civic-minded residents, members have been hard at work, serving others and encouraging the bond of community. As they celebrate their 75th anniversary this October, Lion member Jerry Burke shared the many ways the Lions Club has been at work in Buffalo, offering a plethora of information compiled by many members.
The Lions Club International is the largest service club organization in the world. Today, there are more than 1.4 million members within 48,000 clubs, serving in 200 countries around the globe. The Lions Club focuses on humanitarian services, funded by financial gifts from members and fundraisers, the public, and partnering with businesses. Lions focus their attention on a variety of areas to support, such as vision, youth, diabetes awareness and prevention, the environment, childhood cancer, hunger relief, humanitarian and disaster relief, and more; all areas of involvement help them to address some of the heavy challenges facing humanity.
Buffalo Lions Club
Honoring their motto, “to serve,” the Buffalo Lions and Lionesses give back to Buffalo, Wright County, and Minnesota through a variety of services. In 1945, only men were eligible to be members, but now, both men and women equally make up the numbers in their group. Roughly 32 members currently serve with the Lions, and in the 75 years since their founding, the Lions have contributed more than $1.5 million into the community.
One of their more recognizable services is their collecting and refurbishing of used eyeglasses and hearing aids for people in need. Multiple receptacles are placed around town for locals to donate glasses and hearing aids they no longer need.
A notable activity they participated in was a partnership with fellow Wright County Lions clubs to obtain a large grant from the International Lions Club, which helped in the procurement of the Hospice House next to the Lake Ridge Senior Facility.
For the state of Minnesota, the Lions have supported the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Special Olympics, and the MN Eye Bank, Vision, Hearing, and Diabetes Foundations. They have also supported CanDO Canines of MN and the national Leader Dog organization, which train service dogs.
Both nationally and internationally, the Buffalo Lions expand their help by supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital events, disaster relief programs from both the Salvation Army and American Red Cross, and the International Lions Club and their humanitarian efforts.
The Lions have been a group committed to community since the very beginning. In the 1950s, the club sold and installed house numbers to local homeowners so they could receive home mail delivery. They also helped in the building of the Lion’s Ballpark in 1945, which included getting lights, fencing, bleachers, and playground equipment to the site. In 1965, they organized and began an annual Easter egg hunt.
In addition, the Lions have partnered with the Buffalo Chamber on multiple occasions, whether it be by sponsoring a Miss Buffalo candidate, the Fishing Klinics, providing and operating the “beer garden” at the Buffalo Rodeo, or participating in the Deck the Halls and Kite Festival events.
The Lions’ services and accomplishments would easily fill more space than what this feature section is given, so below is a short list that showcases their involvement.
The Buffalo Lions:
• Award five scholarships, of $1,000 each, to graduating seniors of Buffalo High School.
• Also partner with the high school by assisting with the All-Night Grad Party for graduating seniors.
• Have sponsored the Holiday Train event for 12 years, collecting donations for the local food shelf.
• Sponsor a band for the Music in the Park series every year.
• Help fund local Boy, Girl, and Cub Scouts.
• Built wheelchair ramps for the handicapped at King’s House and for several local residents.
• Organized a project in 2005 to send large quantities of beef jerky to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• Volunteer at the Blessing Closet at Zion Lutheran Church.
• Were sponsors for a golf tourney at Wild Marsh.
• Bag groceries at Cub Foods for donations to the club.
• Have hosted a holiday dinner and dance for mentally-challenged locals for 34 years.
• Assist with delivering meals for Meals on Wheels.
• Have held numerous pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners, and more dining events.
The Lions have spent the years making dreams come true for the community, and have fun while doing it.
“We have a great group of Lions,” Lion Jerry said. “The Lions do a lot of service, and I appreciate the work we do for veterans and the people in the community. It’s the feeling of giving back and helping.”
There’s no limit on how many people can get involved with the Lions and join their mission to support the community of Buffalo. Looking ahead, Jerry is eager to see younger locals join the ranks of their members to encourage the participation of all ages.
For those interested in serving the community and becoming a Lion/Lioness, inquiries can be emailed to buffalomn email@example.com. Visitors are welcome at the monthly gatherings and meetings held at the American Legion; an informational brochure is available at the Chamber of Commerce building, and additional details can be found on their Facebook page and website: www.e-club house.org/sites/buffalomn.