Franklin Lions Serve the Community

J.D. O’Gara
Shown are Cheryl Hobbs, Franklin Lion, and Kristine Shanahan, President of the Franklin Lions, a small group carrying on a 70+ year tradition of doing a lot for the Franklin community.
Issue Date: 
August, 2018
Article Body: 

They are a small club with only 16 members, but they are carrying on a tradition in Franklin that dates back over 70 years. They are the Franklin Lions Club, with 11 female and 5 male very active members who live the motto, “We serve.” The Franklin Lions is one of 48 clubs in Massachusetts District 33K (“K” stands for the “K” in “YANKS,” which represents the five Massachusetts Lions Districts.) They meet every second Wednesday of every month, from September to June, at Alumni Restaurant at 7 p.m., and their goal is to help the community.
Lions are men and women who help people in need in their local and world communities. For more than 90 years, Lions have served wherever need exists. The association was founded by a man named Melvin Jones in Chicago, Illinois in 1917. Mr. Jones felt that volunteering your time to serve those in need was an important responsibility, so he created Lions clubs to give people opportunities to volunteer. Helping the blind became the Lions primary service objective after Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, challenged the Lions to become “knights of the blind” during their international convention in 1925. 
Kristine Shanahan, in her second term of her first year of a two-year elected position as President of the Franklin Lions (she also served in this position a few years ago) became involved when she volunteered with the Franklin Fourth of July Coalition.
“One of the members had asked me to join, and I said, ‘sure!’ It was a place for me to give back without a lot of restriction. The Franklin club is super supportive of all ideas.”
Shanahan’s first year in, she planned a chocolate and wine-tasting event that raised $400.
“If a new member comes on board and has this idea, we say, ‘Ok, why don’t you plan it and we’ll support it.’”
Other fundraisers have included more traditional, educational wine-tastings, basket raffles, and a spa day.
The group does clothing drives through Millbury Textile Recycling, and the money that comes in is used to fund an annual dinner for Franklin seniors. “We do clothing drives pretty regularly,” says Shanahan. “We’ll come and pick it right up, and right now we’re doing bottle and can recycling,” she says. Shanahan says she has been collecting the clothing at her home, in her shed, and that Guardian Self Storage in Franklin has been supportive with free temporary use of a 10x10 storage space, but that Millbury Textile will be providing a donation barn soon for the collection.
Other areas where the Franklin Lions support the community include:
A donation of $500 for a child to attend Clara Barton camp at the Barton Center for Diabetes Education for two years in a row.
• The Franklin Lions has worked with a domestic violence shelter for women, Abby’s House, in Worcester, providing them with new or slightly-used purses filled with feminine hygiene products.
• When hurricanes hit Florida last year, the Franklin Lions connected with Florida Lions Clubs, collecting and sending donations of such necessary products as diapers, wipes and paper towels.
• The Lions have planted trees in Franklin, one at Dacey Field, to provide shade, and replacing a memorial tree that had accidentally been destroyed on the town common.
• The Franklin Lions provides eyeglasses for adults or children that need them, working with Lenscrafters of North Attleboro to provide the eyewear.
The group hosts the District 33K
• Eyemobile at town events, most recently at the Franklin Fourth of July celebration, at which people can get vision, hearing and blood pressure screenings for free.
• The group hosts the annual children’s bike parade at the town’s Independence Day celebration. “It’s free. We get donations for prizes, hand out a first, second and third to the most patriotic, and we get judges,” says Shanahan. Every child gets a goodie bag, snack, water and participation ribbon.
• First week in November, the Franklin Lions partners with local elementary schools and collects candy for the troops. In the past four years of doing so, they’ve collected over 800 pounds to send to troops overseas.
• For the past three years, the Franklin lions have provided over 1,000 DVD’s for vets in a collaboration with Honeydew Donuts. The DVD’s are sent to local VA hospitals as entertainment for veterans and their visitors. The collection takes place at Honeydew Donuts on Veteran’s Day.
• The first weekend in December, the Franklin Lions host a senior luncheon for over 200 seniors from Franklin and Bellingham at the Bellingham Senior Center
• Franklin Lions donate time volunteering in schools and reading books to different children in youth programs such as the Home for Little Wanderers.
• Each year, two Franklin Lions participate in the Blindfold Challenge, the BAA 5K, in which they run a 5K with one blindfolded and one acting as a guide to raise money for the National Blind Press.
• The group donates about $500 per year for back-to-school supplies for local students.
• The Franklin Lions offers a $1,000 scholarship each year to a graduating senior from Tri-County Regional Technical Vocational High School and Franklin High School.
• The group takes part in the Lions International Peace Poster Contest, picking a local winner who can go up through the International organization. Winner of the International award gets a trip to the United Nations.
If you would like to learn more about the Franklin Lions, visit them on Facebook at “Franklin MA Lions Club” or email [email protected].
On September 12th, Franklin Lion Cheryl Hobbs, the “Tail Twister” who runs games for the group, invites you to come find out what Lions do at this monthly meeting at the Alumni Restaurant.