Lions December Programs Raised Over $19,000 for Local Heating Assistance Service, Student Scholarships, and Families in Need
For 30-plus members of the Yarmouth, Maine Lions Club, December is the busiest months on the club calendar featuring several service activities, raising funds for local community support, and bringing joy to countless children in the area.
Starting Thanksgiving weekend with the arrival of 350 Maine-grown balsam fir trees, club members unload and sort trees according to size for sale with all proceeds going to scholarship for area students. In the 20-plus years of selling trees for scholarships, over $80,000 has been awarded. Students are selected based on school recommendations which are, in turn, based on need, academics and extra-curricular activities. The program is well advertised and this year, as in most years, every tree sold out in the first three weekends of December raising over $6,700 in scholarship funds. Lions, as well as some family members, set up and took down tree stands, sold and as necessary, delivered trees. Click to learn more about the Trees for Tuition program.
More recently the club began to sell wreaths alongside the trees with the distinction that wreath sales are used exclusively to benefit the town’s fuel fund for those needing assistance. The Wreaths for Fuel program, under the sponsorship of Yarmouth Community Services, has become increasingly necessary as Maine has recently seen harsher winters, higher fuel prices and more people needing fuel. In December 2017, club members sold 115 wreaths netting over $2,000 to support Yarmouth’s fuel assistance fund bringing total club donations over a 10-year period to about $20,000.
While wreaths and trees are being sold at the village green, another tradition almost as old as the club itself, takes place each December in the same area. For two hours on Saturday afternoons, Santa Claus ably assisted by an elf or Mrs. Claus sits in Santa’s Chalet greeting an endless line of families who pose with their children for photos. Before the children leave Santa, cookies and goodwill go with them. In the 30-plus years of this activity, veteran club members estimate that over 6,000 children have chatted with Santa in his chalet which magically appears on the village green the first weekend in December. The structure currently serving as Santa’s greeting house was built and maintained by club members while cookies are provided at cost by a local bakery.
Probably, the centerpiece of Yarmouth Lion’s December activities, is the club’s Adopt-a-Family program which began 16 years ago and gains momentum with each passing year. In the Lion’s tradition of service, a few members of the club initially received names from Yarmouth Community Services of a small number of families who were experiencing financial difficulties. The club budgeted a modest amount of monies and members donated out-of-pocket to meet the program’s needs. As the need for assistance increased, so did the club’s support and involvement. In 2017, 14 local businesses donated over $2,000 in gift certificates. The club also budgeted $1,000 to the program. This year, several enthusiastic and generous members shopped, wrapped and delivered gifts to the families and nursing homes. In total, a record number of families (12) with a record of children (26), as well as 22 indigent residents of local nursing homes, received over $7,500, in gifts and gift cards. Cumulatively, thanks to Lions and friends, over $75,000 in merchandise and gift certificates have been donated in just the past 10 years.
Although it would be difficult to single out the reason(s) for the success of Yarmouth Lions December efforts, strong publicity through the local paper, signs and word of mouth indicating where the proceeds from these activities were going, have led to continued success and steady membership in the club.
“Seeing people and merchants open their hearts and wallets to help those less fortunate, the willingness of volunteers to do what they do, and seeing the benefits of their efforts, make me proud to be a Lion.” – Sandy Bowie, President, Yarmouth Lions Club
Each December, the Yarmouth Lions Club sells Christmas trees to raise money for scholarships, and wreaths for heating assistance, while hosting Santa for the hundreds of Yarmouth kids to visit and share their Christmas wish.