By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN In some way or another, the Howard Lake Lions Club touches virtually everyone in the community.
From lending a hand to local fire victims to sending eyeglasses overseas, the group of more than 45 people is constantly giving money, time, and talents to help make Howard Lake, as well as the rest of the world, a better place.
The club’s next event is a Palm Sunday Breakfast Buffet, Sunday, March 28, serving from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Lions Hall, 625 8th Street in Howard Lake, two blocks south of Highway 12.
The cost is a free-will offering, and all proceeds will go to the Lions Scholarship Program, which benefits students at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School each year.
“We’ll be serving pancake, French toast, sausage, scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, coffee, juice, and milk,” Lions Club third vice president Terry Thorson said.
The Palm Sunday breakfast is just one of the Howard Lake Lions’ Club’s many volunteer activities.
Friday, April 9, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., the Lions Club will also be helping with the spring carnival at the HLWW Middle School.
“We just show up and help out by handing out prizes,” Thorson said.
Good Neighbor Days in June is another of the club’s activities, in cooperation with the Howard Lake Fire Department.
“That’s one of the biggest things we work on,” Thorson said.
A few years ago, the Lions Club also started a pork chop dinner fundraiser Friday night of the Wright County Fair.
At Christmas time, the Lions Club supports the Silent Santa program, which provides gifts for children, disabled adults, and senior citizens in the Howard Lake, Waverly, and Winsted areas.
The Howard Lake Lions is a service organization affiliated with Lions International. The group has many fundraisers to support its projects, such as Lions Eye Bank, Leader Dog, Can Do Canines, Lions Club International Foundation, Camp Friendship, Camp Courage, Camp New Hope, Campaign Sight First, and The Wellness Van, among others.
Camp New Hope is one of the Howard Lake Lions Club’s newest areas of support.
“It help veterans readjust to civilian life when they return home from war,” Thorson said.
The Lions Club often assists the City of Howard Lake, helping to put in new additions around town, such as a fence around the ballfield, new dugouts, an LED-light welcome sign at the east end of town, and a broom for the city tractor to sweep the ice rink.
Locally, the Lions have supported or donated to several organizations, including the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School athletic department, the After Prom Party, Peer Helpers, Turkeys for Project Caring, the DARE program, and the Wright County Food Shelf.
The group also sponsors a teen center at Lions Hall.
“It makes you feel good to help people out,” said Thorson, who has been a Lions Club member for more than 25 years.
The club meets the first and third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in Lions Hall, which is the old Walker United Methodist Church building at 625 8th Street in Howard Lake.
During the meeting, one member will serve dinner for the group, or there will be a potluck. Meals are $5 per person, and anyone is welcome to attend.
People who are considering joining the Lions Club often come to a meeting or fundraising event first, Thorson said.
“Then, they see how fun it is and keep coming back,” he said.
One of the fun parts about Lions Club meetings is the “fines” that members can incur. People can be charged a dime for silly reasons, such as wearing the “wrong” color of shirt, sitting at a different table than usual, or anything else that someone suggests.
“Anybody can make a fine,” Thorson explained. “It’s just kind of a fun way to keep the meeting light and fun so people are in a good mood.”
In order to join the Lions Club, a person needs to be at least 18 years old and attend four meetings or events each year.
Most members, however, choose to volunteer more than is required.
“I try to make all the meetings and fundraisers,” Thorson said.
Membership dues are $55 per year, which is significantly lower than many other Lions Clubs.
“We’re always looking for more members, and guests are welcome,” Thorson said.
To learn more about the Lions Club, go to www.hllions.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.