Marked Tree Lions Club has long legacy of service

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Marked Tree Lions club has a rich history of serving citizens of Marked Tree and around the world.

Established 74 years ago, the Marked Tree Lions club is a local chapter of an international organization which currently has 1.4 million members in more than 180 countries.

While the Lions Club participates in a variety of service projects, its main focus is eyesight preservation and the elimination of blindness worldwide. The club collects used eyeglasses for low-income individuals in need of corrective lenses. It also raises funds and makes a variety of donations to Lions Club International and organizations assisting in blindness elimination efforts.

The Lions Club has a substantial legacy of community service. According to the "History of Poinsett County," which was published in 1997, the Lions were very active in the 30's and 40s by helping needy families during the depression and working with organizations that assisted polio victims.

Early members paid for repairing school buses and helped in the collection of delinquent taxes so schools could pay their teachers and people would not lose their property. They also collected clothing and toys for children, raised money for the purchase of school books for poor children and sponsored a variety of creative fundraisers such as boxing bouts and the Lions Club Follies.

Charter members of the club, which was founded in April of 1930, were W.B. Baird, Dennis K. Kent, D. Fred Taylor Jr., Hazel A. Bowers, Kenneth F. Higdon, Powell Thompson, Wyatt Boxley, Casey E. Martin, Ollie Walker, P.G. Broom, W.G. Oswalt, Donald F. Wylie, Louis J. Clarke, Dr. Charles H. Reagan and Bob Young.

Today, the club's legacy of community service continues. The club still holds fundraisers to assist in local charity efforts. It sponsors Wyatt Boxley Scholarships for high school students. In addition, the club sponsors students to Girls State and Boys State as well as sponsors a student to attend Arkansas Summer Camp for the Blind. In the past, the club has adopted a classroom at the elementary school.

The Lion's Club motto is "we serve." Clearly, the club takes its motto to heart, encouraging its members to be service-minded people who are willing to help others without personal gain. Some of the club's objectives include promoting the principles of good government and citizenship, taking an active interest in the welfare of the community, providing an open forum for discussion of matters of public interest and, of course, community service.

"It's good to be involved in the community," said Becky Shinaberry, current president of the club. "It's good to help others who are less fortunate or might have problems like poor eyesight."

In addition to community service, fellowship is an important part of the Lions Club. Its members gather twice a month on the second and fourth Thursdays in the fellowship hall of the Marked Tree First United Methodist Church. The lunch meeting provides an excellent opportunity for club members to develop lasting friendships.

"I enjoy the fellowship with everyone at the meetings," Shinaberry said. "Our club is a great club to be a part of."

The club's next meeting will be at noon on Thursday, Nov. 9 at the fellowship hall of the Marked Tree First United Methodist Church. The Marked Tree High School Choir will be performing for the group.

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