Local service organizations are putting out the rallying call for new faces to join in the fun and get involved.
Each club and organization raises money that is distributed back to the community in many ways, from supporting youth activities and groups, to making donations to local projects such as the Backpack Program, United Way, Salvation Army, the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center and YWCA Family Violence program, Friends of the Library, HOPE Therapeutic Riding Center, and many more.
Check out the list of service organizations and the time and place for their meetings in a graph compiled by Bob Eichman on Page 2B.
Dale Heller, who heads up the Elks, said their membership has been steady at around 200 for the past five years.
“The Elks has been well-known in the community for many years,” Heller said.
Perhaps the Elks is best known for its pancake feeds, which raise money for a different benefactor each month.
“Two years ago in 2015 we hosted benefits that raised over $100,000 to help people pay medical bills,” Heller said. “Since we lease the bar and grill now, out we’re kind of limited to doing these fundraisers on either a Sunday or Monday.”
The group also holds a Flag Day demonstration each June, which includes a free brats and burger feed for everyone attending.
“We do that to honor our veterans, disabled and elderly,” Heller said. “We get a grant from the Elks National Foundation that allows us to buy the food. That has increased in size every year as far as attendance.”
Dale Greenfield, commander of the VFW, said they are always trying to encourage younger servicemen and women to join.
“Everybody is talking about coming up with plans to get the younger ones involved, but nobody has a good answer,” said Greenfield, who was attending a reunion in Kansas City of the First Infantry Division. “Lots of young people are not getting involved.
“There’s guys here, six are World War II veterans, and most are Vietnam-era or Desert Storm. There’s hardly any Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom vets.”
Kiwanis Club spokeswoman Brenda Welch said this club begam training young people to get involved in community service through the Key Club at Huron High School a number of years ago.
“When we first started we had 50 kids, which we thought was really good,” Welch said.
“It’s very successful; there’s like 100 kids or more,” Welch said. “The Key Club has a ‘Morp’ dance instead of a prom to get new members. The kids come up with some of the best ideas and they are so helpful.
“We have Kiwanis members who were in Key Club, in Circle K in college and now in Kiwanis,” she added. “It’s nice to see how that carries through.”
Welch said the Kiwanis motto is “Children Priority 1.” To help them raise money they have the Pancake House on the S.D. State Fairgrounds, which they operate during the fair and WISSOTA, as well as for the Special Olympics breakfast during the state equestrian event in July.
“It’s a great bunch of people and we have a good time at the Pancake House,” Welch added. “When everybody chips in it doesn’t take long to get it done.”
Kiwanis’ big international project is the Eliminate program, to get rid of neonatal tetanus worldwide by getting young women vaccinated. “It’s pretty nasty when babies are born with tetanus,” Welch said.
“In a lot of countries they pack the umbilical cord with mud, and the dirt is where tetanus is,” she said. “By getting tetanus shots into mothers we can help get rid of it in infants.”
Welch said the dues members pay helps support local projects and also joins donations from thousands of other groups worldwide to support the international project
Locally, the roughly 60 Kiwanis members help deliver meals for the Beadle County Area Nutrition program, and make many donations to youth programs. Welch said they also partner with Scholastic, so they can purchase books for adults and children.
Judy Stahly, leader of the American Legion Auxiliary, said she’s been a member since she her mother enrolled her as a junior member during her school days.
The Auxiliary sponsors the Citizenship essay contests for school students, and presents dictionaries to all third-graders in the district each year.
“We sponsor a Girls State representative and give a scholarship at the Senior Awards Day,” she said. “We also sell poppies. The veterans make those and we send the money we raise back to them.”
Word of mouth has been the most effective tool in getting new members for the Fair City Sertoma Club, said club leader Carol Milbrandt.
“We have about 14 to 16 in our club,” Milbrandt said. “We would always like to increase it.”
Their main fundraiser is held in the spring and is always well attended, she said.
Money they raise is donated to different groups, such as United Way and Friends of the Library.
“We have a social once and month and try to bring a friend,” Milbrandt said. “We also help with Pie in the Park, which is coming up.”
Fair City Sertoma sponsors the Pie in the Park baking contest, which will be held this year on Aug. 17 in Campbell Park. Entertainment will be provided by the Brian Burgeleen Band.
Huron Lioness Club leader Sheron Chapman said the three Lions clubs active in town were developed as membership needs changed. They have meetings for every schedule — 7 a.m. for the Eye Opener Lions, noon for Huron Noon Lions Club, and 6:30 p.m. the Huron Lioness Club.
“For years there was only the one, the Noon Lions Club,” Chapman said. “Some of the members broke away to start a morning club because it fit better in their schedule.
“Then the Lioness Club was chartered with 43 members in 1977,” she said. “That’s been 40 years this year. Today the membership is 30, and we still have two charter members, myself and Marilyn Young, now living in Sioux Falls.
“The Lions have offered for some time for the Lioness to join their club and not have a Lioness Club,” Chapman said. “But these gals are dedicated and wanted to keep that club going.”
The Lions Clubs follows the motto “We Serve.” Each spring they host Pancake Days, which is the main fundraiser for the group.
With that money, they provide scholarships for children with diabetes to attend Camp Gilbert, give donations to BelieveFest, DARE program, HOPE Therapeutic Riding Center, Huron Backpack Program, JMFSC, Junior Achievement, Leader Dog Program, People’s Transit, Royal Family Kids Camp, Salvation Army Angel Tree, Christmas Basket Program, YWCA, S.D. Lions Eye Bank, Huron Senior Center, and Ski for Light, which is a project that is put on every year in the Black Hills for blind skiers.
“I always say money in the bank isn’t going to help anyone,” Chapman said. “It only helps if you can get it out there.”
Larry Cross is head of the Odd Fellows, a service group which oversees Riverside Cemetery. They are always hoping for new members, he said.
“I think we’re all having the same problem,” Cross said. “There’s so much competition with a person’s time. It isn’t like it was 30 or more years ago.”
The Odd Fellows purpose is to educate the orphan, help those suffering from affliction or distress, and to provide burial services, he said.
“This organization was started in Europe many years ago,” Cross said. “Sometimes people don’t realize that Masons and many of these organizations have been around for many years.
“We’re always looking for members,” he added. “We’re probably our own worst enemy. We don’t get on the hill and holler who we are and what we are, but we need to.”