by Katie Arvia
LANSING, Ill. (November 2017) – For 80 years, the Lansing Lions Club has been giving back to the community through donations of time, energy, and monetary relief. Founded in 1937, the club currently has a roster of approximately 40 members. Since its foundation, the Lansing Lions Club has undertaken many projects, such as feeding the homeless, providing eyeglasses to the less fortunate, and collecting donations for Camp Quality, a week-long retreat for children with cancer.
Current Lions president Bert Rivera travels to Mexico each year with fellow Lion Richard Rucoba to distribute eyeglasses and provide eye exams. “We go there for one week or two weeks, depending on the year, and we help close to 6,000 people in one week,” said Rivera.
Collected glasses are first sent to Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana, where there is a work program for inmates to repair the lenses. Afterward, the glasses are taken to Mexico and donated to people in need. Any glasses that are leftover are donated to Mexican optometrists to give to their patients throughout the year. Donations are accepted year-round and collection boxes can be found in churches or optometrist offices throughout Lansing.
The Lansing Lions have also made important contributions to local community life. Many permanent structures in town have been donated by the club, including the aptly named Lions Stadium and Lions Park. The Lansing Police Department was gifted surveillance equipment, and the Lansing Fire Department was given “Pluggie,” a robotic fire hydrant that teaches children about fire safety.
Currently, the Lansing Lions are working with St. Victor Church in Calumet City to provide meals to the homeless. Rivera said they have a goal of providing food six times per year—about 50 meals each time—including a dinner for the upcoming Christmas holiday.
Eric Himmel, a third-generation Lion and former president of the Lansing chapter (the youngest ever), said, “It’s a great group of guys that want to get together for a greater mission: to help those who are less fortunate. We do fun stuff too! It’s a nice social club that has a fantastic underlying ‘give back’ message.”
The Lansing Lions Club accepts and encourages new members year-round. “I would encourage them if they want to serve. As long as we’ve got people interested in giving back to the community, we’ll be here,” Rivera said.
Himmel added, “I would encourage people to join because it’s a good thing to do. You feel good, you give back, you meet people. Get out there and meet new people, experience something different, be a part of something bigger than us.”
For more information on the Lansing Lions Club, click to visit their website, or call the Lansing Chamber of Commerce at 708-474-4170.