4/10/2013 5:34:00 PM Lions' open house highlights service
The local club’s banner. Photo by Briana Alzola.
Lions Club International is the biggest service organization in the world based on number of members. The Othello club has about 22 members, all working their hardest to make a difference. The group participates in a variety of projects and programs that are meant to help not just the people of Othello but people across the state and country. These programs were on display and Lions Club members were ready to talk about opportunities to make a difference during their special open house at the senior center March 28. The open house celebrated the Lions Club's 58th year in Othello, president Donna Ruttan said. Some upcoming projects are the white cane program and the community garden. The Lions Club will have their own plot at the community garden for the first time this year. All the food they raise in their plot, which includes two four by 12 beds, will go directly to the Othello Food Bank. The plot will be cared for entirely by Lions Club members, Kim Christie, who is spearheading the effort, said. Christie is working with Sharon Mobley, at the food bank, to determine what vegetables are most needed. The small white canes will be sold outside of Le-Pre-Kon and Walmart the first weekend in May. All the money raised goes to help with programs to help people with sight issues. The Lions Club also participates in a sight program where they collect used eyeglasses and send them to the Northwest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center in Olympia. The glasses are then cleaned, tested for prescription and redistributed to people around the world who could not otherwise afford them. There are thousands of glasses distributed, Christopher Pellejara, of CBHA, said. The program is a great one and really helps a lot of people. The Othello Lions Club held an eyeglass drive last October and collected more than 200 pairs of glasses to send to the recycling center. There are also programs that help more specifically in Othello. A special birthday calendar helps raise money for scholarships. Each year, the club puts out a calendar and on it, buyers can list the birthdays of themselves and their immediate families. The calendars are $10 each and can be purchased through Lions Club members, Ron Hardt, club member, said. The money raised, along with other Lions Club fundraising efforts, go to scholarships for local students. Students can get involved through the Leo Club. The club has several members at the high school who complete various community service projects around town. Kimberly Alvarez, a Leo Club member, stopped by the Lions Club open house. She just joined Leo Club this year as a senior. She is having a great time, she said, and enjoys helping out the community. Her senior project at OHS is about collecting donations of toys and money to help local children. She definitely recommends joining Leo Club, she said, it's a fun way to help people. The local club also participates in international programs. Lions Clubs International focuses on health problems around the world. There are all kinds of projects but one major one was getting measles vaccines for people in third world countries. Measles can lead to all sorts of health problems, like blindness and more, even death. Last year, the Gates Foundation pledged to match every $2 raised by the Lions Club with $1 of their own, if Lions Club International raised $10 million. They did, so $15 million was donated to helping out with the eradication of measles around the world. This world-wide organization is making a difference, Rod Marsh, member, said. The Othello club is one of 10 in its district, which stretches across Washington and British Columbia, he said. It's a huge area and Othello is representing this part of it well. The dues are nominal, he said. The club is a nonprofit and is meant only to fundraise, do service projects and help as many people as they can. The Lions Club meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Time Out Pizza. Anyone can join this group. Club dues amount to about $85 a year, including local and international fees. Anyone interested should come to a meeting or get in contact with a current Lions Club member, Ruttan said.