Last week, we celebrated our second finalist, the Opunake Lions Clubs and their service project building a 9-kilometer walking track around their town. This week, we’re celebrating the FY19-20 Top Club Service Award Winner: the Denman Lions Clubs in MD201 Australia!
The adults had plenty of entertainment, too, with a comedian keeping the farmers laughing and a live band with a dance floor.
Throughout 2019, southeastern and eastern Australia experienced a horrible drought. The Denman Lions saw farming families in their community and surrounding areas struggling and wanted to do something to help.
The Denman Lions Clubs has 12 very committed members. However, with help from other community members and groups, the club provided more than 95 farmers and their families with gifts of stock feed, water, toys, food/fuel vouchers and other items. The Lions estimate that the total amount of donated goods and vouchers distributed exceeded AUS$120,000 (approximately US$85,647).
On December 14, 2019, farmers came out from the nearby towns of Dubbo, Cassillis, Uraby, Merriwa, Martindale, Bearami, Gun Gal, WyBong, Bunnen, Jerry’s Plains and Denman. An enormous amount of animal and pet food, bottled water, clothing, shoes, cosmetics and toys were handed out that day. Vouchers in excess of AU$20,000 were also donated to the farmers. Gayna Harvey of On the Bandwagon, a non-profit that assists farmers suffering from drought, came and brought along more than 450 bales of hay.
The day was a family event with activities for children, including jumping castles, face painting, apple bobbing and shaving cream fights. Plus, the club had its own “Pluka Duck,” a large mascot-style duck costume with an actor inside, entertaining the young. Even Santa Claus arrived handing out lollipops and the children were able to pick gifts from Santa’s Cave while Lions provided a free barbecue all day.
One of the farmers wrote in his thank-you note to the club, “Please let me say my mother and father came with me and when they were told they were allowed to take gifts for the grandchildren, they broke down and cried as they spent everything on keeping their property going. My mother was so overwhelmed with emotion that she cried nearly the entire 70 kilometers home. Thank you.”
A wonderful meal was served that evening that included prawns and oysters, followed by an assortment of desserts supplied by the local caterer Denise O’Hara. The adults had plenty of entertainment, too, with a comedian keeping the farmers laughing and a live band with a dance floor. One attendee commented that she had not heard her husband laugh like that for over two years. Wines from Hollydeen and Two Rivers plus a half leg of ham were offered as gifts when the farmers left that evening.
This is far from the first time the club has offered farmers relief during the drought. Club members have logged over 1,500 kilometers a month driving out and meeting farmers to deliver assistance when they could not come out. In the past three years, the club has donated food and vouchers to farmers in their community and in surrounding communities. They have handed out more than 700 food boxes to affected farming families.
The club has also supported the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services by hosting free barbecues at their information days. Other Lions clubs and districts have been generous in their support of these efforts, with more than AU$66,000 being forwarded to the Denman Lions for distribution. After seeing their efforts in the community, five new members joined the Denman Lions, a wonderful example of how great club service has been the driver for membership growth in their community.
In their application for the ANZI Top Club Service Award, the Denman Lions extended special thanks to everyone who supported the event, including On the Bandwagon, their own Lions, and the more than 40 volunteers at the event. They are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported their drought efforts, including all clubs in District 201N3. In thanking community members, club President Steven Carter said, “Your generosity is truly humbling and the tears on the faces of our grateful farmers as they left with their gifts just showed how grateful they were. Your generosity made a difference for these struggling families heading into Christmas.”
We would like to recognize the incredible difference the Denman Lions Club has made in their community. As a club of only 12 members, they were able to provide much-needed services to farmers, both in and outside their communities. This activity is a shining example of how Lions clubs can work together with community members, other clubs and organizations to deliver a positive outcome for the community.
Read last week’s blog to learn more about the second finalist for the ANZI Top Club Service Award.
Lion Carolyn Hall is a GAT field specialist, primarily working with CA 7 and CA 3, at Lions Clubs International. She is a member of the Chicago Windy City Lions Clubs.
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