100 years of service: Lions Club International sets sights on centennial celebration

A major milestone was reached this year as the Lions Club International organization celebrates its centennial by honoring the mission of service that began in Chicago, Illinois in 1917.

Locally, Lions Club organizations in Wimberley, Buda and Kyle not only pave the way for some of Hays County’s most recognizable events, but also work to give back to their communities as well.

The organization’s roots trace back to Melvin Jones, who in 1917 created a group that sought to address the betterment of their communities.

Eight years later, in 1925, the Lions were challenged by Helen Keller to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.”

Since then, one of the Lions Club’s priorities is providing sight programs, including free vision screening for children.

Amy Cox, marketing director of the Wimberley Lions Club, said their branch would celebrate a special anniversary of their own in 2019 when the organization turns 50.

But she said in order for it to continue to help serve the community, all organizations seek to bring in “new blood.”

“We currently have 200 members but we’re trying to get more interest in the organization,” Cox said. “We need some more newer, younger people to join the Wimberley Lions Club.”

Cox said in addition to Wimberley Market Days, which has been hosted by the Wimberley Lions since 1969, the local organization gives money to other nonprofits. Those include the Wimberley Library, school bands, the EmilyAnn Theater and any other individuals and groups in need of assistance in the community.

“This is such a vibrant community, every penny we make, we give as much as we can back to the community,” Cox said.

Lions Club organizations also provide scholarships for local college students every year. Cox said the Wimberley Lions Club gave away $166,000 in scholarship money last year.

So far this year, Cox said the Wimberley Lion’s have given $66,000, 4-year scholarships to eight students.

Cox said the Wimberley Lions Club is active in many other community service endeavors like collecting donated eyeglasses and sending them to countries where they don’t have eyeglasses.

Cox also introduced the new Spot Vision Screening as a new tool for early detection of eye disease in members of the community that is completely free of charge.

“It’s a handheld device that detects eight major eye problems and is focused on early detection for eye issues that if treated early can be cured,” Cox said.

Cox said the international side of the organization is currently trying to tackle the growing epidemic of measles around the world by traveling to at-risk areas such as Africa and vaccinating millions of people against the disease.

“The main mission of the Lions Club is to serve and serve in a humanitarian way,” Cox said.

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