Local club helps community and beyond

by Cougar News Contributor 0

The blurriness is over.

Hundreds of people in third world countries are seeing more clearly because of the Castaic Lions Club.

In 1917, the Lion Club was started in Chicago, Illinois by a man named Melvin Jones. Jones, a business man wanted to find a way to reach beyond business issues to better was community and communities all over the world. His business group called the Business Circle of Chicago agreed.

The Castaic Lions Club was started in 1954, and serves the communities of Castaic, Val Verde, and the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Castaic Lions Club does many events throughout the year to raise money and other goods to help people in the community.

One of the largest events that the Castaic Lions Club does is their annual santa float.

Jeff Preach a member of the Castaic Lions Club grew up in Manhattan Beach. And their Lions Club had a santa float and Preach thought it was a great thing that the community did.

The Santa float is a 10 night event where kids get to go see Santa Claus.

“The first year we did this event I had a dirt bike trailer, and put a red chair on it along with some plastic reindeer,” Preach said. “When we got to the stops I had my three boys go knock on people’s door and run back to the trailer so people knew that they could come see Santa.”

Thirty years later the float is still going strong. However, the float has come a long way from just being a dirt bike trailer. Now when you get on the float you see two houses with all the reindeer on top of the houses. Once your on the float you make an immediate left turn and follow the houses all light up with magical Christmas colors up a steep hill so that you are now at the same level as the roof tops. And that is where Santa’s slay is. Once the children get their they are either excited with joy as Santa gives them a candy cane, or else they are screaming and want nothing to do with Santa but still love the candy cane that is given to them.

But there is more to the Santa float than just seeing Santa Claus.

This event is a way for the Castaic Lions Club to give to the community. And it is a way for the community to help those in need as well. When the float makes its stops at the different neighborhoods the residents bring caned food to the float. “Each night the Castaic Lions Club goes out, we collect a full truck-bed of food, equaling about 500 pounds of food,” said Keith Schmidt, the vice president of the Castaic Lions Club.

Once the food is collected, the club will have the food sorted and made into care packages. Then the food is given to families in need. If there is still food left over after the families in Castaic pantries are filled, the club will then give the beeft over food to the SCV food pantry.

According to the Castaic Lions Club President Flo Lawrence, this event is huge.

“It is this exact event that made me want to be a member of the Castaic Lions Club,” Lawrence said.

Throughout the year the Castaic Lions Club does multiple other events to raise money. The club will do events from cooking hot dogs and hamburgers, servicing dinner for grandparents day, parting cars etc. The club does events like this to raise money so they can put on events to help people in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Each February the Castaic Lions Club will host a student speaker contest. Most of the time each high school in the SCV will send a person to compete. The winning of that event moves on higher levels, and if they when state level they can win up to 20,000 dollars in scholarships.

The Castaic Lions Club is also there to help people who can’t afford glasses purchase them.

If there are people who live in the Santa Clarita Valley who need eye glasses and can’t afford them the Castaic Lions Club will help pay for glasses for that person.

The Castaic Lions Club collects broken glasses. It doesn’t matter how broken they are, they will take anything. “Once the club has a decent amount of glasses, the club will send them up to the prison in Lancaster where the prisoners will fix the glasses, clean the glasses and sort the glasses by their prescriptions,” said Ray Graeber, a member of the Castaic Lions Club. Once the glasses are fixed and sorted the glasses are shipped to third world countries where people who have never been able to see clearly receive these glasses for free.

There are a few different ways that the Castaic Lions Club receive the glasses that they donate.
“There is an optometry office in Canyon Country that says, donate your broken eyeglasses,” said Raeber. “Once the box is full I will pick up the glasses, and I will bring them to Keith Robison, a member of the Castaic Lions Club, who brings the glasses to the Lancaster prison.”

According to Paula Bae a staff member from Hart High School, Hart High has collect eyeglasses for the Castaic Lions club for the last 20 years. This year Hart donated close to 2,000 pairs of glasses to the club.
According to Wayne Hoffmeyer a member of the Palmdale Lions Club, he will go to the prison every two months and pick up the fixed and sorted glasses.

“After the glasses are fixed by the prison, I will go pick up all the glasses, sometimes up to 2,000 pairs,” Hoffmeyer said.

Once Hoofmeyer receives the glasses, they are sent up to Vallejo California near San Fransico to the Lions In Sight (LIS) facility. Once the glasses arrive to LIS the glasses are prepared to be sent to third world countries.

According to Homeyer, some of the countries are, Bangledesh, Turkey, Equador and lots of South American
countries.

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