On a hot Friday evening, the St. Davids Lions Club welcomed community members to their weekly barbecue. And although it was a small and local affair, it raised money to provide critical aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, thousands of kilometers away.
The St. Davids Lions Club has been raising money for charitable causes locally and internationally since 1963. The international organization recently sent US $ 100,000 in aid to Haiti.
Haiti suffered a catastrophic one-two blow from Mother Nature. On August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated the island nation. Over 2,200 deaths were confirmed, and the number is rising.
A hurricane struck just a few days later.
“The Lions were the first to be there,” said Allen Snider, Lions Club International Director of Canada.
“Everything that is donated to the Lions goes back out. We don’t keep anything for overhead. Our posts cover such things. ”
Snider has been a St. David’s Lion for 41 years. He was recently promoted to International Director for Canada, representing all Lions clubs across the country on the world stage.
“Of course there is a learning curve. Lots of zoom meetings and guidance, ”he said.
The pandemic is having a serious impact on Lions’ ability to work with the community, Snider said.
“It was hard to do service work when you couldn’t bring people together. We can’t go anywhere to work with the elderly and children. None of that happened. ”
One of the club’s top fundraising drives is the annual Carnival, but it has been canceled two summers in a row.
“That puts a strain on our donations,” said the international director.
To make up for the losses as much as possible, Lions have held a weekly barbecue since June.
“So far, it has worked quite well. We have an average profit of just over a giant per (barbecue), ”said Snider.
Lions also focus their fundraising initiatives on more local issues.
The St. Davids Lions recently helped Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital set up an eye exam room for children, said former President Bradd Anderson.
The collective Lions clubs across Niagara also worked together to help Niagara Health Hospital in Well and purchase expensive medical equipment for performing eye exams, he said.
“$ 200,000 each. We did that, ”he said.
Anderson also promoted the Leos program, which has been instrumental in helping children from St. Davids Public School to volunteer for the club. At the barbecue, the new and old Lions generations worked side by side to raise money for charities.
A group of young Leos took care of the finances while the older Lions cooked and prepared the food packages.
“We can help the community every Friday,” said 15-year-old Leo Michaiah Ivri.
“It’s just great to be able to -”
“Serve the people,” interrupted her 13-year-old brother Ezekiel Ivri and elicited laughter from his Leo colleagues.
“And to give back to your community,” added 13-year-old Andrew Christie.
“It feels good to help people,” said Maya Dueck, 14.
Anderson said the club has 32 Leos to help out with all aspects of the club, from barbecuing to participating in the Terry Fox Run in September.
Weekly barbecues continue through Thanksgiving weekend, which means many more of the area’s residents can head to St. Davids on Fridays between 4pm and 7pm to buy a burger for charity.