When times get tough, the tough get going. At least that’s how it is in the Lions Den in Rathdrum.
Instead of allowing today’s challenging economic times to hamper the dozens of community projects they support each year, the Rathdrum Lions, local members of the largest service club in the world, have risen to the challenge with a really great motivator – a wager.
“You might ask Kevin about the bet,” said Rathdrum Lions president Larry Quimby.
Each year the Rathdrum Lions raise the money to support their generous service to our community through two main fundraisers: an auction in the spring and a car raffle in the fall. The wager, between Kevin Randles, first-time chairman of the auction committee, and Norm Heitstuman, longtime chairman of the car raffle, is simple: $100 to whichever event raises the most money.
“Our theme is Western Days,” said Randles, and so far, “my team is off to a great start.”
Actually, Randles’ cowpokes have already rounded up a 1993 Eagle Vision, a .270 stainless steel Ruger with a stainless steel scope, five liquor baskets, five wine baskets, and an overnight stay in a local bed-and-breakfast.
They have lassoed local contractors into donating a 10-by-40-foot patch of asphalt, an 8-by-6-foot metal shed still in the box, and three wooden storage sheds; as well as landscaping, shrubbery, rototilling and backhoe services.
Their corral of auction items includes six pieces of commercial grade gym equipment including two treadmills, two new bicycles, a round of golf, a huge lot of new tools, a 6-by-8-foot playhouse named “The Pony Express” by builder Charlie Cramer in honor of Rathdrum’s past history as a pony express station, balls signed by the varsity teams of both local high schools, and a seven-month-old pure-bred miniature dachshund looking for a new home.
One special item, according to Randles, is a community quilt. A request from Lions Club member Rita Crowley prompted Athol Elementary students to design quilt blocks. Local artist Elsie Harvey put the quilt together. “She wanted to do it for the Lions,” said member Tammy Cramer, “because many years ago the Lions Club gave her a Christmas basket at a time when she needed it; and her son got glasses from them, too.”
Despite the huge roundup of items, Randles’ cowpokes will have a tough job winning the wager against car connoisseur Heitstuman and what has been the club’s number one money-maker for the past eight years, the Lion’s annual Classic Car Raffle.
Tickets for the raffle are on sale now around town for this year’s classic, a 1964 ½ Ford Mustang. White, with a red interior, the collector car sports a 289 V-8 engine, 3-speed on the floor and low mileage. Tickets sell for $5; or 5 for $20.
The Lions Club returns one-hundred percent of the funds raised from these events back into their community. “I looked at some of the things they do in the community,” said Randles, who has been a member less than a year, “and they are the first to step forward. Whether it’s a check for $250, $500 or $1,000; they truly, truly, put the money back into this community. They don’t spend it on themselves.”
Orchestrating the Lions club activities, events, and projects keeps Quimby busy. “We help a lot of people,” he said. “It’s fun; I enjoy it.”
Two of their biggest annual projects, said Quimby, are the health day they sponsor for local residents without medical coverage, which is coming up in June; and the sight and hearing testing they provide for every elementary student in the Lakeland School District each October. The Lions also provide eye glasses for children whose parents are unable to afford them, support local youth sports, give academic scholarships, host exchange students, lease baseball fields to the Little League, and offer use of the Lions Den at no charge to nonprofit groups, “especially children’s groups like 4-H, Special Olympics and Boy Scouts,” said Quimby.
“We do our best to meet the needs of anyone who asks for help,” he said. “Last year we gave financial assistance to five or six cancer patients; and we cut up, split and delivered 15 cords of wood at no charge to folks who needed it.”
The Rathdrum Lions meet Monday nights at the Lions Den just outside of town. Every other meeting is a dinner meeting. There is plenty of time for dinner because the meetings don’t last too long. “I keep ’em short because I don’t like long meetings, never have,” said Quimby, “but we seem to get a lot done.”