Lions Club members have a saying: where there’s a need, there’s a lion.
And people in the Goulds, a St. John’s neighbourhood with roughly 12,000 people, are in good hands with the Goulds Lions Club – the group has donated over $1 million in the past 14 years.
That's $1,065,000 to be exact. No wonder they call a group of lions a pride.
A member recently wondered how much the club has donated, so treasurer Clev Ingram decided to take a look. He went back through the accounting as far as June 2006 to tally an amount that exceeded $1 million.
President Charlie Phillips conservatively estimates the group has donated over $2 million since it was founded in 1976 by Lion Ron Whitten – who today is 85 years old and continues to volunteer with the club.
Whitten is a fixture at the club’s biggest fundraiser – the summertime Sunday night Lions Drive-In Bingo at Bidgood’s Plaza where he runs the Nevada ticket sales.
The club attributes their ability to donate such large sums of money mainly to that fundraiser, but they also raise funds through radio bingo with VOCM Cares, and community calendar sales.
The drive-in bingo is popular, attracting people from outside the community, and many young people, too, the group said.
This past summer, they said 1,300 people attended opening night.
Since 2006, the Goulds Lions Club has donated $54,000 to the neighbourhood’s schools, $22,000 to Scouts, and $20,000 to the Janeway Children’s Hospital.
They’re a major sponsor for the Goulds arena, donating over $150,000 since 2006.
They’ve helped train service dogs through the Lions Foundation of Canada with $40,000 donated, purchased an ambulance for St. John Ambulance, and donated $60,000 to Bidgood’s Park.
“We’re not just all about donating money, we do get involved in things in the community – we put off the Christmas parade, we do a World Service Day dinner and dance for the seniors in the community, we do community clean-up,” said Phillips.
“We donate to people who are travelling away for medical appointments, and people who might be down on their luck and need some money to help them through. There’s countless things that we get involved in – money is one thing, but there’s other things that we do, also. We donate our time.”
Ingram said people in the community have learned over the years that if they need help, they can call the Goulds Lions Club.
“This is their first point of call, whether it’s for a trip for their school, or a medical thing, or whatever.”
Jamie Finn, who’s a director on the club’s board, added: “We might not be able to meet everyone’s needs, but we’ll certainly try our best.”
Ingram believes what sets the Goulds Lions Club apart is that they have plenty of younger members.
“Because a lot of the Lions Clubs around got a lot of this grey hair,” he laughs, pointing at himself.
Finn said they have members representing every age group, even youth with the Leo Club for younger members.
The group said the wide age range probably helps with their fundraising efforts because they can reach more people in the community.