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After 75 years in Tallmadge, it's time for a celebration.
The Tallmadge Lions Club plans to celebrate its diamond anniversary with a dinner for the community and members Aug. 9 as a way to recognize all the work that's been accomplished over the years.
The club currently has nearly 35 members and about a half dozen of those are lifetime members.
"Their service is the reason why we exist [as a group]," said Tim Ream, who has served as president of the Tallmadge Lions Club for two years.
The club was started in October 1938 by a group of "movers and shakers" in Tallmadge, according to Roy Morrow, who has been a Lion for 28 years and is chair of the 75th anniversary banquet.
The club's first president was T. Neil Jones, and by December of 1938, the club boasted 25 members.
One of the biggest events the Lions has chaired in its 75 year history was the Mid-West Industrial Free Fair, which started in 1957 and continued for 27 years. The fair included games, rides and food, as well as health screening booths and tables from local organizations and businesses.
With the money the Lions raised from the fair, an old farmhouse was purchased and turned into what is now Lions Park. Eventually, the club donated the park to the city, taking only one pavilion area to create Tallmadge Lions Hall, where the group meets. The hall can also be rented out for gatherings.
"I'm quite proud of the Lions Park that we have. It's very well used," said Morrow.
A large part of what the Lions have always done is centered on vision. The club provides vision screenings free of charge at local elementary and nursery schools from late August to late September. Several Lions are trained to operate Sure Sight, a machine that allows them to see if anything is causing the child vision problems and then refer them to a doctor.
"We try to catch it early on so that by the time they're in third-, fourth or fifth-grade, they've been evaluated and can get to a doctor," said Ream.
The club also collects used eyeglasses. A machine is used to read the prescription off the lenses, and then people may choose a pair if they cannot afford to buy their own. Other donations may be shipped internationally.
Donation locations are Tallmadge Community Center, 80 Community Road; Grant's Barber Shop, 857 Southeast Ave.; Novus Clinic, 518 West Ave.; and Dr. Dave Elliot DPM, 20 South Ave.
The Tallmadge Lions Club is part of a district that has two eye clinics -- something very few districts have worldwide. The Lions Eye Clinic at St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland, and The Greater Akron Lions Eyecare Program help the Lions achieve their goals in Northeast Ohio.
The club has also purchased Pilot Dogs, or seeing eye dogs, for those in need.
The Lions host a variety of fundraisers throughout the year, including selling cider in the fall on the Circle and "Celebrity Chef," where local business owners and politicians cook a signature dish and attendees can purchase buffet tickets to taste all the creations.
Additionally, the club provides a recent high school graduate with a $4,000 scholarship.
"It's all a good memory," said secretary Chuck Victor of the clubs projects. "[All of our projects] are good and they're all beneficial. To see these people out there and serving is just great."
Ream fondly remembers a partnership the Lions once had with the Akron Canton Food Bank. "We were able to buy a lot of foods at a ridiculously low rate and it was free to everybody. It's one thing to give a check and it's another thing to be face-to-face and give people the staples that they can use," he recalled.
Other Lions' projects have included diabetes research, disaster assistance, purchasing police and fire equipment, and other local programs geared to the community, as well as assisting other community groups with their projects, according to Victor.
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Lions Club is hosting an anniversary dinner at Guy's Party Centre, 500 E. Waterloo Rd., Akron, on Aug. 9. Tickets are $30, and may be purchased through Morrow at 330-633-7812.
The Tallmadge Lions Club is always looking for more members.
"Lions is a great organization. If you want to make good friends and serve your community, it's a great organization to join," said Morrow.
Anyone interested in joining the Tallmadge Lions Club are asked to call Lions Hall at 330-633-5739.
Facebook: Sophie Kruse, Record Publishing Co.