When Tory Roberts, Gardner, was looking for a place to volunteer, she answered the roar of the Lions Club.
It’s the world’s largest service organization boasting more than 1.3 million members. Approximately, 15 of those members belong to the Gardner club.
For Roberts, the decision to join the local group was an easy one. Her father belonged to a club in Jefferson City, Mo., when she was a child and he still does today.
“I grew up with the Lions Club,” Roberts said. “When I realized there was one here in town, I thought I would give back.”
The club’s mission is a simple one: “We serve.”
One of its primary goals is to give sight. Members raise awareness of eye disease and provide free vision screenings.
The local group brought a mobile vision screening unit to the Johnson County Fair this year. They also work with school nurses to financially assist students who need glasses.
Last year, the club also sponsored Mattie Diener, a Gardner Edgerton High School baton twirler, in a twirling competition in Peru.
“We raised money for her plane ticket,” Dave Johnson, Gardner Lions Club President Dave Johnson, explained. “So she went over to Peru and had a lifetime experience over there.
When she came back and told us about it, you think you did pretty good by helping someone like that.”
The group does a lot of fundraising to pay for things like local scholarships and community service projects.
Last month, members hosted chili and soup supper. Those funds will be used for scholarships for Gardner Edgerton High School students. They’ll host a chicken noodle dinner in the spring and donate the proceeds to the Gardner Multi-Service Center.
And just this week, they set up an aluminum can collection bin at Trails West Hardware store. The money they collect from the cans will be used to fund audio reader projects for the blind.
Roberts said members always collected cans from their own members, but wanted a way to collect from others.
Roberts said she noticed a similar collection bin when she was traveling and suggested the club create one in Gardner.
A local business donated the dumpster and Girl Scouts helped paint the bright blue can bin.
Lions Club International originated in Chicago in 1917. Gardner’s club was chartered in 1947.
From 1947 until a year ago, the local chapter met twice a month at the Downtowner Café.
The group meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The first meeting of the month is typically at the Gardner Senior Center. And the last meeting of the month, the group rotates to different restaurants.
Johnson said they’ve started meeting in different establishments around town, however.
“We’ve just kind of been moving around to let people see us,” Roberts said.
Johnson said the local club would like to do more community service projects than it does today.
“I wish the community would ask the Gardner Lions to do more,” Johnson said. “We have a lot to offer.”
The group is actively seeking new members. There are no specific membership requirements except a willingness to serve.
“If you want to be a member and give back to the community, we want you,” Roberts said.