VERGENNES — The Vergennes Lions Club has had a very busy winter and spring, donating thousands of dollars to area organizations and individuals. In order to do this, the club holds various raffles and asks area businesses for assistance. Club President Shanon Atkins said that if it weren’t for the area businesses the Lions wouldn’t be able to help all those that they do now.
It started off with the club donating $2,000 to the Vergennes Community Food Shelf to help purchase food for those in need. Maryanne Castimore, representing the food shelf, thanked the club for the donation and mentioned that the number of households receiving food on a monthly basis has nearly doubled in the past few years.
The next project was the annual “Speak Out” competition. This year, four young women from Vergennes Union High School presented speeches based on Lions Club International President Barry Palmer’s slogan of “Follow Your Dream.” Hannah Hatch won first place over her fellow presenters Stephanie Anderson, Julie Grace and Cassi King. Hannah went on to the district (Vermont) competition where she came in second place. This competition results in cash prizes for the top three speakers. Adviser Cookie Stepanitis helps the students prepare each year.
The club also presented $500 to Vergennes Union Elementary School principal June Sargent to help strengthen the reading program at the school. Sargent spoke about the competition to read and the tremendous success that she has seen with students surpassing what she had originally expected.
Elderly Services Director Joanne Corbett spoke to the club about her program and encouraged members to help identify folks in the community that might benefit from use of the program. She also mentioned the constant need for additional funding to help meet the costs of the pro- gram. Atkins presented Corbett with $1,000 to help.
In addition, the club sponsored the regular Red Cross Blood Drives, made donations for fuel assistance, built handicap-accessible ramps to homes in Bristol and Vergennes, and made a $1,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes.
The club also participated in the American Legion-sponsored Memorial Day parade with a float, selling flags and food, and conducting its annual car raffle. The winner of the car was Sara Leach. The monetary winners were Phil O’Brien Jr. and Julie Norton.