‘There are so many needs out there’
Published October 22, 2013
HAZEL PARK — They’ve been serving Hazel Park since 1947. And they’re just a small part of a much larger picture — a group numbering 1.3 million across 200-plus countries.
They are the Hazel Park Lions Club, part of Lions Club District 11A-2, which spans Macomb and Oakland counties. And their causes are many.
With a $36,000 annual charity budget, they help those who are hard of hearing or have poor eyesight, as well as the students of the city, those using the parks and more.
“And the people in the Lions Club really enjoy doing the work,” said Judy Turner, Hazel Park resident and member of the Hazel Park Lions Club.
The Lions Club administers vouchers to those in financial need, covering the entire cost of eyeglasses, or defraying the high cost of hearing aids. They make contributions to Leader Dogs for the Blind, as well as the Penrickton Center for Blind Children.
Their “white cane” sale at the end of April and beginning of May helps support this. Standing on street corners around the city, they collect money from drivers and pedestrians, and give them blue tags to hang in their cars, indicating they’ve already donated.
The white cane sale is a common shared fundraiser among local Lions Clubs, including the one in Madison Heights. In that city, the Lions Club gives out miniature white canes as a symbolic gesture of appreciation.
“Standing on the street corner, it’s kind of like playing ‘Frogger,’” said Fran Kirchoff, current president of the Madison Heights Lions Club. “But we all help each other during fundraising. The Hazel Park club does wonderful things.”
One fundraiser unique to the Hazel Park Lions Club is the Hazel Park Memorial Weekend, where they run a tent selling food and refreshments, with free live music. They also raise money holding bingo at the Recreation Center during the Memorial Weekend festivities and sell miniature American flags to people up and down the parade route.
Their next fundraiser is this November and December, during which, every weekday except Friday, they will be selling Christmas candy and fruitcake at Hazel Park City Hall and at the Credit Union One in Ferndale.
Aside from helping the seeing and hearing impaired, the Hazel Park Lions Club also contributes to the Hazel Park Promise Zone, helping to send graduating Hazel Park High students to college. They endow several scholarships, each worth $2,000-$500 a year, renewable up to four years. They contribute to the Hazel Park Youth Aid Foundation, which assists students in need with such matters as band instrument rentals, college grants and more. They even contribute reflective, decorated trick-or-treating bags to the elementary schools to keep their students safe on Halloween.
They also sponsor a baseball team through the Recreation Center and donate to the Recreation Center’s Lunch with Santa event. They’ve donated playground equipment to the parks over the years and helped decorate one of the rooms at the Recreation Center, painting it and furnishing it with new tables, chairs, blinds and so forth.
In addition, the Hazel Park Lions Club has invested in the safety of the city, purchasing a defibrillator for the Hazel Park Police Department that police say has already been used 27 times in the past year, including three times to save children.
The list of good deeds goes on. The club currently has slightly more than 60 members. Youth membership appears to be on the rise, which Turner said is wonderful.
“We want to keep it active,” Turner said. “Not many people know what the Lions Club is, but there are so many needs out there.”