LINGLE – Each December, a group of volunteers from the Lingle-Fort Laramie area come together with guests for a special Christmas dinner and auction to raise money for the Lions of Wyoming Foundation’s Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp for the visually impaired.
“We have a meal and then we buy presents and people can bring a present if they so desire,” Lingle-Fort Laramie (LFL) Lions Club member Bill Carr said. “They wrap the present and we usually spend $20-$30 for a present, and we just put on the present that it’s for a he, she, a house. You don’t know what you are bidding on usually. So, when you get it, then you open it up and see it. Then there’s some horse trading going on.”
Some of the items auctioned in the past have been donated by community members, such as paintings by Bud Watson. Carr pointed out his personal collection of Watson paintings he had acquired from past auctions.
“100% of those proceeds go to the Casper Mountain blind school,” Carr said. “The people are usually pretty giving. It’s just a hoot; a lot of fun.”
Carr said there wasn’t an auction or dinner last year due to COVID, but they have continued to raise money the past two years to donate to the Lions of Wyoming Foundation’s blind camp.
This year, they will be donating more than $12,000 from donations they have received over the course of the past two years.
December’s Christmas dinner and auction isn’t the only service the Lions provide to the area. Carr said the Lions Club sells birthday and anniversary calendars every year; this being the 57th year. The calendars cost $8 and have the birthdays and anniversaries of local people.
The LFL Lions Club also sells Christmas wreaths and swags.
“We sell 310 of these a year,” Carr explained. “They are fresh cut out of Washington state and shipped in the middle of November. We put bows on them and have salesmen sell them. They sell out immediately.”
Carr told the Guide he has a list with around 150 names who purchase these wreaths from him nearly every year. The wreaths are being sold this year for $35.
In the past, the LFL Lions Club has also done some projects throughout the area.
“We try to do one project each summer,” Carr said. “We are a service organization; we serve. That is our deal, “we serve.”
Carr, who has been a member since 1994, recalled working on projects such as the band shell at Whipple Park, the Whipple Park sign on the southeast corner of the park, benches at Fireman’s Field in Lira Park, the white fence at the Lingle Cemetery, providing coffee and donuts at the polls during the general election and much more.
In June of 2015, the Niobrara River flooded portions of Niobrara County, including Lusk and Manville. The flood damaged or destroyed over 50 homes and collapsed an overpass on U.S. Highway 85 near downtown Lusk, according to an article by the Casper Star-Tribune.
The Lingle-Fort Laramie Lions Club responded to the disaster to help locals cope with the disastrous flooding.
“We went door-to-door asking people what they needed,” Carr said. “We would then go and get them what they needed from the local hardware store.”
The Lions Club also hosts “Community in the Park” each year as a way to give back to the community. Residents and guests are invited to attend the gathering in Whipple Park each August where the Lions Club entertains guests at the band shell and typically has an open donation meal.
Donations from events such as “Community in the Park” and other fundraisers have gone to help with disaster relief projects, such as the Lusk and Manville flooding event, and to provide aid to local emergency response agencies.
“We have given to both fire departments (Lingle and Fort Laramie),” Carr said. “The donations go to help with equipment.”
The LFL Lions Club has also donated to the LFL Booster Club, $2,000 to the Lingle Community Center and $3,000 to LFL schools for live-feed cameras for streaming sports. At one point, $1,000 was donated to benefit the girls’ basketball team.
The LFL Lions Club also painted and donated the Jay Em town sign along U.S. Highway 85 and helped the community restore several of their buildings.
One of the most recent donations made by the LFL Lions Club was a $6,000 donation to Evergreen Plaza, Goshen County’s newest senior living facility. The $6,000 donation was used to purchase two exercise machines to be used by the residents of the facility upon its opening.
Becoming a member
Becoming a member of the Lions Club isn’t as easy as walking in and signing up, but it’s not much more difficult than that either. To become a Lions Club member, one must be invited by a current member of the club. That member will then be charged with sponsoring the person who desires to join.
Dues to join the organization are $80 per year, $60 for state and national dues and $20 to the Lions of Wyoming Foundation. The money given to the Foundation is then available for emergency use throughout the state of Wyoming in the event of a crisis.
An ideal candidate is someone who is in good standing in the community who wants to serve.
The LFL Lions Club meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the basement of the Community Presbyterian Church in Lingle.
For those interested in learning more about the Lions Club or to seek information about joining, reach out to any local Lions Club member or visit lionsclub.org.
The Lions Club began in Chicago, Illinois in 1917 by Melvin Jones. Jones invited business clubs from around the United States of America to a meeting. At this meeting, the Lions Club was formed. Then, in 1920, a Lions Club Charter is established in Windsor, Canada, making the organization an international organization.
In 1922, The Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp begins.
In 1925, The Lions Club is dubbed the “Knights of the Blind” by Hellen Keller. Keller spoke at the Lions International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, challenging the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”
In 1943, the Lingle Lions Club is chartered.
In 1983, the Lions of Wyoming Foundation is chartered.
In 2012, the Foundation assumes ownership of the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp from the Lions Club of Casper.
As of October 2021, the LFL Lions Club has 14 current members.
“Lions Club International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.”