By Jim Misunas
LARNED — The Larned Lions Club members believe their annual holiday assistance is a labor of love. They’ve been helping Pawnee County families for 42 years with the Fort Larned Lions Christmas Basket Project.
Fort Larned Lions Club member Ron Vancleave said it takes the cooperation of a variety of people to make everything work smoothly since 1974. Vancleave has assisted with the Christmas project for more than 30 years.
“We start the process about two months ago,” VanCleave said.
More than 100 households will be assisted in 2015 and more than 250 people will receive food, clothing or toys in Larned, Burdett and Garfield. Volunteers packaged goods and finished up the process Saturday and Sunday at Carr Auction. Households range from single adults to single-parent families with several children.
“We appreciate having a beautiful facility like Carr Auction provides,” VanCleave said. “It makes it much easier to gather up items at one place. We’ve run this various locations. We’ve run this from a basement before and that was a challenge.”
Vancleave said Lions Club members enjoy helping the less fortunate.
“We appreciate very much the support that community provides,” he said.
The Fort Larned Lions Club Christmas Basket Project received a boost of $1,716 Thursday, thanks to Steven Lewis from Comfort Systems of Larned. Comfort Systems intended to match donations at the Larned Chamber of Commerce Coffee Hour up to $500.
“At the Coffee Hour, I announced I would match any donation no matter the amount,” said Steven Lewis, Comfort Systems. “People donated $858. I have written out a check for the full $858 amount. Thank you and the organizations you represent, for the support and attention that helps make this worthwhile project even more successful.”
Lewis, a Larned Lions club member, has been a tireless supporter of the project.
“The need is up,” Lewis said. “We could not do this without the community’s support. The success of the project is the reflection of the community’s support. We are helping people who are less fortunate.”
Lions Club member Bill Fairchild coordinates the purchase of canned goods and other food items at Dillons. Cal-Maine Foods of Chase donates the boxes.
The Pawnee Valley Community Hospital Auxiliary has coordinated the Angel Tree project and donated clothing items since 1987.
Names of families or individuals who qualify for assistance are collected from past recipients and community organizations, churches and individuals.
The Pawnee Valley Community Hospital Auxiliary and high school students at Larned provide toys for children ages 12 and under; and clothing to children ages 13 and older. Fort Larned students assist by donating canned goods. The LHS student council coordinates a toy drive for youngsters 12 and under.
The Pawnee Valley Community Hospital Auxiliary sponsors its Angel Tree, which gathers clothes for the community. The PVCH Auxiliary is comprised of more than 80 women, a dozen men and five honorary members.
For information, call Steven Lewis at 620-285-1609 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash donations can be sent to the Fort Larned Lions Club, Christmas, P.O. Box 205, Larned KS, 67550.