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Lions come together to help others on national day of giving

Members of several Carroll County Lions clubs worked to do something meaningful on Saturday, Oct. 25. It was Make a Difference Day, a nationally recognized day with a common mission — to improve the lives of others.

"It's important to be part of your community and support your community," said Ruthanne Lillis, a member of the Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club.

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According to the event's website, millions of people across the nation unite on Make a Difference Day, an initiative started 24 years ago by USA Today and backed by the Gannett Company and TEGNA in collaboration with Points of Light, a leading nonprofit devoted to volunteerism and community service. Make a Difference Day is lauded as the largest national day of community service.

Lions Clubs across the county were asked by district leaders to participate and they did, collecting items for those in need, cleaning up highways and delivering gifts as well as games and companionship to seniors in assisted living facilities within the county.

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Those who participate can enter a competition sponsored by USA Today and Newman's Own to be one of 13 groups or individuals to win a $10,000 award for their charitable project(s).

Past District Governor John Hopkins said local Lions clubs became involved three years ago when then-District Governor Paul Canada applied for the award and won for projects within Multiple District 22-W. Carroll is within that district, which includes four counties and 50 clubs. The Lions liked Make a Difference Day and decided to make it part of their annual calendar.

Lillis, along with other Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club members, was outside of Brewer's Market in Silver Run on Saturday morning, collecting for three causes: the Silver Run Food Pantry, the Carroll County Humane Society and The Shepherd's Staff's Call for Coats program.

"There are so many people in need, especially in this day and age," she said. "Everyone should do something to help."

The Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club also worked on road cleanup, picking up trash on a two-mile stretch of Md. 97 north of Westminster.

Roaring Run Lions Club planned to participate in Operation Welcome Home for their Make a Difference Day project, stuffing goodie bags for troops arriving from overseas, but last week's incoming flight was canceled. Club member Vicki Mahr said they plan to meet the plane at a later date, when the flight is rescheduled.

According to New Freedom Lions Club member Jeff Zumbrum, 14 people turned out from his club to pick up trash on a one-mile stretch of Md. 32 near Eldersburg.

"With 14 guys you get it done pretty quickly," he said. "The Lions Club motto is 'We Serve' and we are always trying to find things to do to give back to the community."

The South Carroll Lions Club set up inside the Eldersburg Safeway, collecting personal care items and other necessities for the county's cold weather shelter.

South Carroll Lion Ellen O'Malley said they collected many pairs of socks, toothpaste, toothbrushes and hair care products, as well as hats and scarves.

"One woman who likes to crochet donated hats and scarves she had made," O'Malley said.

The Taylorsville-Winfield Lions Club brings bingo and ice cream to The Meadows assisted living home once a month. Mindy Coates, of the South Carroll Lions Club, said they joined forces with the South Carroll Leos Club — a high school Lions affiliate — for Make a Difference Day. The Leo Club spent about $100 on prizes for bingo and brought flowers for every resident.

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Leo Club member Rachel Griffin said Blooming Baskets of Mt. Airy donated vases and flowers for each resident and the club purchased the prizes.

"They said they liked stuffed animals, so we got those and some other practical gifts," Griffin said.

Leo Club member Allison Ryder said the experience benefited those giving as well as those receiving.

"It's nice to talk to other generations and learn more about them," she said. "It's a really good experience."

Through Make a Difference Day, O'Malley said, the Lions are just trying to give a little back to those who need it most.

"We are trying to make things better for someone who is less fortunate than us, to help our community and to make a difference in someone's life, maybe make it a little better," she said.

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