New England Lions Club distributes annual Christmas candy

A Lions Club Christmas tradition started in the 60’s is still alive and well today.

(PHOTO) A group of Lions Club members pack candy for last year's Christmas candy distribution event. This year they packed 240 bags of candy.
(PHOTO) A group of Lions Club members pack candy for last year’s Christmas candy distribution event. This year they packed 240 bags of candy.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

A Lions Club Christmas tradition started in the 60’s is still alive and well today. On Tuesday, Dec. 9, the Lions Club in New England gathered an hour early for their December meeting to pack little bags of candy to distribute around the community. The treats went mostly to children but some also made it to the senior center this holiday season.

The event is held annually, and according to Don Rose, was already in practice when he joined the Lions Club in 1964. In 1965 Rose said they needed to stuff about 1,200 bags to fulfill the amount needed to distribute to the children of New England. Though the number has dwindled considerably, the Lions still packed 240 bags, according to Lions Club member Butch Frank. Frank said that some of the candy also went to Amidon for distribution.

So what started the program?

Don Rose said it can be attributed to the group’s inherent mission to perform service projects for the community.

“We take any project we want like that, and we make it go,” Rose said.

The supply of candy is funded through the local businesses of New England.

“We contact the New England businesses for contributions, and that’s what we use to buy the candy,” said Lewellyn Rustan, local Lions Club member. “We do the packing, and the delivery and all that kind of stuff, but it’s actually the New England business community that pays for it.”

Rustan also said that the business’ generosity usually funds the event for more than a single season.

“I think right now we’ve had enough from before, and we still figure we’ve got enough for next year,” Rustan said.

Rustan added that the situation could change with the population increases the last few years.

Rustan said that packing takes the group not more than an hour, considering many of the group members lend a helping hand to the event.

“A lot of hands makes easy work out of a project,” Rustan said.

Though members usually assist in the candy distribution, the kids got a special guest after the holiday concert.

Santa Claus.

Santa made an appearance after the performances to be able to give the kids a Christmas treat.

Rose was very thankful to the businesses and the community for the support it gives the Lions Club here in New England.

“Our local people have been really good to our Lions organization,” Rose said.

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