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Eden Prairie Lions Club

"We Serve"

“The year was 1999. I had raised three kids. Life had been good to me. It was time to start thinking about my legacy – what I could do to give back to my community,” said Gary Stevens, former president of the Eden Prairie Lions Club.

“Experience taught me that my soccer and basketball coaching skills (or lack thereof) won’t make the world a better place for future generations. But that’s part of the reason why I was drawn to the Lions Club in the first place: no experience necessary. So long as you can ring a bell, pour a beer, or shuck an ear of corn, you can do a lot of good for a lot of people.

“If you stop by Kowalski’s or any of the other grocery stores around town, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a Lion. Almost 30 of us spent last October handing out fliers and collecting donations for PROP Food Shelf. In November we joined the Salvation Army’s legion of bell ringers. They’ve done the math: a red kettle collects three times as many donations when it’s attended versus when it sits alone. 

“Many of us sing Christmas carols while we collect. A few of us have been offered money to stop singing. Even then, we’re making a difference.

“Most of our fundraising programs are a little easier on the ears. We present Schooner Days, a free carnival in June that has been Eden Prairie’s highest-attended event for over six decades. We have the Corn Feed, a one-day gathering in August where we roast and sell about 5,000 ears of sweet corn. We also have the honor of serving the only (legal) beer you will find at Round Lake Park on the 4th of July.

“Helen Keller, as an ambassador for the American Foundation for the Blind, addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925. The Lions Club was only eight years old at the time, and still looking for a core mission to focus on – an identity, if you will. Keller challenged the 7,500 Lions in attendance to become ‘knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.’ The Lions Club enthusiastically accepted her challenge, and remains chiefly committed to benefiting the visually impaired to this day.

“Our efforts to help the visually impaired take many forms. The Lions KidSight USA Foundation brings free vision screenings to children across the country. Our technology takes only two seconds to determine whether a child should see an eye doctor, and it works on babies as young as six months. The Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation manages the eyeglasses donation boxes you’ve probably noticed around town. We collect an average of 7,000 pairs of eyeglasses for the third world each year in Eden Prairie alone. Alongside the University of Minnesota, the Lions Gift of Sight program obtains and distributes donor eyes for cornea transplants, research and education. We also raise money for Can Do Canines, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and other organizations that train guide dogs.

“The Eden Prairie Lions Club is currently about 100 members strong – four times the size of the average club nationwide. Our town’s relatively large population contributes to our high headcount, but so too does our welcoming vibe. Instead of social cliques, we’re creating fun opportunities to engage with our community and help people.

“If you’re looking for a way to stay active during your retirement – or if you don’t fish, play golf, or feel like wasting your golden years watching the History Channel – then the Lions Club welcomes you with open arms. No matter your age or your schedule, we can use your time and natural talents!”