Helping Kids and the Environment
Trash is piling up in areas of Paarl, 60 kilometers from Cape Town. In these same areas, children from poor families sometimes go hungry. Hamburgers are a luxury here, so local children are eager to spend time and effort to get them.
Paarl East, Western Cape, South Africa
The Lions Step In
Local Lions address both needs through “Bag-A-Burger” feeding projects that help kids learn to care for the environment. During each project, Lions bring in a caravan with supplies and portable grills. “We pick an area that needs cleaning, generally in the poorer areas of our district,” says Michael O’Neill of the Paarl Lions Club. Lions work with community groups to get kids to participate. “We issue kids gloves and plastic bags,” says O’Neill. Once kids fill a bag with trash, they bring it to the Lions preparing food and cold drinks. “Lions cook the burgers, cut the rolls. It doesn’t take long to serve up 150 burgers,” says O’Neill. Lions usually get 60-75 kids aged 12 or younger to participate. The older children may fill two or three bags, while younger kids fill only half a bag, but everyone gets a burger.
“It is so easy to come here on a Saturday morning and within two hours we’re done. It takes only a little time and a little effort to do a lot,” says John Clift of the Paarl Lions Club. “We hope in time that they will actually learn not to litter but to pick up things and keep the area clean. It’s lovely and an easy project any club can do.” As the kids finish their lunch and go out to play, they and the Lions can see that together they made a difference.
Lions work with local governments, which provide the gloves and bags and pick up the trash after the clean up. Lions also work with community organizations that publicize the events and get the kids to come out for the clean-up and lunch. And with schools to organize clean-ups at school grounds.
Tips and Tools
Make It Happen: How to plan a project that helps kids and the environment
Why did the club decide on this project? »
The project started as a feeding project, and we added an environmental project, making it a hands-on project for children who participate.
Where did you start? »
We saw children playing in areas with a lot of litter. We contacted a local community leader and asked him to get some children and parents to participate. The parents and older children supervise the younger children.
How do you fund the project? »
Funding comes from money we raise for projects. It costs about 300 South African rand (under US$40) for 50 children to do two projects – one feeding and one environmental.
How long does it take? »
Because we have the caravan already stocked, all work at the project site takes only 1 to 2 hours. We try to do a Bag-A-Burger project every month. Clubs that don’t have a caravan can prepare the burgers elsewhere and hand them out after receiving the bags of trash.
Any special words of advice? »
The whole attitude toward littering has changed, and the area where we started has changed quite a bit for the better. Lions clubs should try it and see the enjoyment of children eating and drinking after having picked up trash from the area where they play.
"The kids love it. It is educational. It teaches them to keep their community clean. And the parents love it. The people in this community love the Lions club."
"It’s lovely working with kids. Also I love to see the community clean."
Paarl Lions Club
"This project can be replicated all over the world, even in wealthier areas. They all have environmental problems – problems with litter."
Paarl Lions Club