After having to cancel Biscuit & Gravy and Pancake Feeds, as well as 2020’s Easter Egg Hunt after 80+ years of putting on the event, the Manhattan Lions Club welcomed hundreds from the community for a short egg hunt that saw excellent turnout.
Arriving around nine to put out the eggs in City Park’s west/southwestern fields, volunteers welcomed the community’s youth aged 2 – 8 years old at 10 o’clock, for the Easter egg hunt to kick off the Easter weekend celebrations.
Efforts by the Manhattan Lions Club extend beyond putting on this event as they also have eyeglass boxes around town at different stores, from grocery stores to optometrists, where over the period of a year’s time, collected about 8,500 pairs of eyeglasses and about 300-400 sunglasses that are then distributed for Doctors Without Borders to go to third world countries. This initiative extends to local schools as well, helping children whose parents don’t have insurance and can’t afford them to get eyeglasses to waken, regulate and see their work.
Lion Club President Dave Schafer says this early mission of the club became vision and eyeglasses when Helen Keller, a historic woman who was both blind and deaf, came to an early club meeting in 1921 and challenged the clubs to take on eyesight.
“We’ve done that ever since, and we’ve been known for that worldwide. I became an early member in 1968… In a two year assignment, I had in India, as a lion, it is the largest worldwide service organization, and it keeps going on,” Schafer said. “We’d like more young members who are willing to serve and get involved, to an extent at least. The attendance requirements used to be every week you were supposed to be at a meeting. Well, we’re getting a little looser on that because of people’s schedules, but we think people want to serve in anyway.”
Local citizens had a lot to say about why they came out, and what it meant to them and their little one’s. Cristhian O. Giraldo says that he thinks it’s amazing for the kids to be able to still remember and do the things that they usually do, and it was nice to get out together, as this resemblances what normal life is.
“We’re getting there, so it’s very important to get back on track and get back to normal,” Giraldo said. “We’re getting close to normal life. Everybody should embrace that life is different, like the freedoms we have now, and the great country we have. Not everybody’s getting vaccinated, or have vaccines available as much as we have and I feel grateful.”
Mother to little Jaiven (pictured above), Jenna Reid says her son is only two, and missed any kind of Easter last year with Covid cancelling festivities. Reid said she allows her son to have a extra day of candy and then she puts it up,as with Halloween and Valentine’s candy, and indulge a little bit the first day and then space it out for the other day. Reid claimed they both were really excited to have something to get out and do something to experience Easter in somewhat of its organic form.
“Everyone’s made modifications, which we all adjust to, but as a mom of little kids, it’s really exciting to sort of feel some sort of normalcy,” Reid said. “I know it’s a lot of work and people put a lot of thought into making sure all the boxes are checked, especially with the extra precautions. So, as a mom of kids, I’m just excited that people took it on to really bring the community together and have some fun.”
Volunteering to make the event a reality, Kansas State University Lions Club President Carlee Dubbert says the university’s contribution to the partnership with the parent Lions Club, extends to volunteerism and help them out anyway.
“It’s basically a partnership that we have between us, and they’ll help us out with whatever events we have and we’ll come and help them. We wanted to just kind of collaborate with them and help support to be a part of the community,” Dubbert said. “We just think it’s really important for the younger community, especially college students to get involved not only with their K-state community, but the Manhattan community as well. I think we want more people to go out and do service events like these. It’s just kind of a good idea of who you are as a person, and you’d meet like minded people with the same goals and ambitions.”
From Dubbert’s perspective and that of her fellow K-state Lions Club Member Sydney Clements, events such as these offer hope that there’s going to be a better tomorrow, and collectively the community will make it through COVID, and come back even stronger.
“You’re gonna be able to do community events like this and support one another. Even through the times that we were stuck in our house cooped up, we’re able to still come out here like this and enjoy the beautiful weather and enjoy each other’s companies,” Dubbert said. “So I think it’s great things that we’re doing things like this, especially, no matter the COVID or pandemic, we’re still gonna make things happen, and I think this whole situation, is good for both sides.”
“When we came to K-state, we wanted to find a way to connect that K-state community with the broader Manhattan community. So we started the Omega club on campus and partnered with the Manhattan Lions. So we go to a lot of their events and just found a way to be involved in our new community in Manhattan,” Clements said. “We’ve kind of had a little dormant period, but we’re getting our meetings happening back in person on campus and working with the Manhattan Lions again. Kids run around and gather eggs like I did, when I was a little kid, things start to feel a little more normal, and everyone has a smile on their face under their masks, I’m assuming.”
Expressing the desire to get back to normal, Lions Club member Kent Oleen cites it is positive that numbers of pandemic incidents in town are way down from previous and gives hope not only for the future, but the future of the events.
“It goes back to 1940, and we have a photograph of that… Before I came, they actually boiled eggs, and colored them and then we started stuffing the eggs, and receiving from local businesses donations,” Oleen said. “Now they’re commercially purchased. But we were uninterrupted, until last year due to the pandemic. [Organizing the event] takes some work, but it is worth it.”
Oleen says that members were glad to have such a beautiful day, and admitted how fun it was watching the kids going around and finding eggs, offering that those children who don’t find many will always receive several as they keep a few back to distribute and ensure everybody’s happy.
To find out more about local events put on by the Manhattan Lions, visit the Four Points by Sheraton every 2nd, and 4th Monday at 6:15 pm.
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