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Lions Club Christmas Basket Project a holiday tradition
Volunteers needed Saturday, Sunday
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Photo by Jim Misunas Great Bend Tribune Larned Lions club members who assist with the Fort Larned Lions Club Christmas Basket Project include, from left, Pastor Leroy Lyon, Bill Fairchild, Marilyn Edgington, Janis Fairchild, Carl McKittrick, Deborah Lewis and Ron Vancleave.

By Jim Misunas

LARNED — The Larned Lions Club members believe their annual holiday assistance is a labor of love. They enjoy helping others, especially during the holidays. They’ve been helping Pawnee County families for 40 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.
“We get better organized every year. It’s our mission to help the people of Pawnee County,” Vancleave said. “We appreciate very much the support that community provides. We appreciate the financial support. Carr Auction has been very gracious about letting use their warehouse all week. This is a great facility.”
Vancleave said Lions Club members enjoy helping the less fortunate.
“We believe in taking care of the community,” he said. “The most rewarding feeling is when you hear someone tells you ‘thank you.’
The Fort Larned Lions Christmas Basket Project enters its 40th year of service to families and individuals in Pawnee County. Club members provide food baskets. 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.
“Our high school principal Mr. (Troy) Langdon is very much in favor of this program because it teaches the youngsters to be in a giving mood. Some things have to be donated,” Vancleave said.
Fort Larned students also assist by donating canned goods.
“This particular group works tirelessly. This small group accomplishes big things. It’s fun to point out the positive things, and this is one of the most positive projects going on in Larned,” said Kevin Holt, Larned Chamber ambassador. “It shows that Larned is a great place to live.”  
The Lions Club requests volunteer assistance at 3 p.m. Saturday to package goods and at 1 p.m. Sunday to deliver the Christmas items at Carr Auction for families in Larned, Garfield and Burdett.
More than 100 households, 148 children and 182 residents 13 and older will benefit from the 2013 Fort Larned Lions Club Christmas Basket Project. Households range from single adults to single-parent families with several children.
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.
Club members start gathering names in October. They visit families to start the selection process with the goal of completing the interview process prior to Nov. 21. The PVCH Auxiliary has invited the community to select Angels from the Angel Tree and donate clothing items since 1987.
Names of families or individuals who qualify for assistance are collected from last year’s recipients as well as from community organizations, churches and individuals. Last year, the program helped 105 families.
“We had quite a few people tell us that they were doing better and didn’t need help this year,” Vancleave said.
Each family is interviewed and asked if they want a basket or need assistance this year. These names are checked for correct addresses and information on family members concerning income, need, number of people in the household, special diet requirements, ages and gender of any children as well as clothing sizes and hobbies.
The families are informed whether they meet the income requirements and advised as to delivery dates (Dec. 22) and times (1 to 3 p.m.) for the baskets. The Fort Larned Lions Club will not leave baskets if no one is at home. If they cannot be at home at the delivery date, then the recipient will need to make other arrangements ahead of time for delivery.
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.
The Larned High School’s student council coordinates a toy drive for youngsters 12 and under.
To help with or donate to this project contact Lion Steven Lewis at 620-285-1609 or e-mail
Cash donations can be sent to the Fort Larned Lions Club, Christmas, P.O. Box 205, Larned KS, 67550.