Recent Posts

Lions are ready whenever there’s a need

Published on: May 17, 2017

Lions are ready whenever there’s a need


The 47 members of the Sun City Center Lions Club are all about service. It’s why they join and what they do.

Chartered in 1985, the local chapter is part of Lions Club International, the largest service club organization in the world, with 46,000 clubs in 210 countries and a membership of 1.4 million. On June 7, the nonprofit group will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Ellen McGovern, left, and Gloria Rodriguez, are longtime members of the Sun City Center Lions Club, a local chapter of Lions Club International, the world’s largest secular, nonpolitical service organization.

“Our motto is, ‘“We serve,’” said Gloria Rodriguez, a Lion for the past 10 years and current president of the Lions Club in Sun City Center. “When there is a disaster anywhere in the world, Lions respond. Locally we support nonprofit groups throughout the area, including Mary & Martha House, My Warrior’s Place, Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, the Sun City Center Emergency Squad and Southeastern Guide Dogs. We also support the Lions Eye Bank for Transplant & Research in Ybor City, Wimauma Elementary School and the Good Samaritan Mission.”

The club’s support comes from funds raised through numerous efforts, including the annual sale of live Christmas wreaths shipped from Washington state and Claxton fruitcakes. Its biannual White Cane Drive at various retail locations in the area raises thousands, as does its annual Lions Fundraising Cruise. Last year, a Celebrity Lines cruise to the Caribbean over Thanksgiving brought in almost $4,000.

Donation boxes like this one at the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce are located throughout the community. The Sun City Center Lions Club receives about 1,500 pairs of used, prescription eyeglasses per quarter, which they recycle for use by low-income residents of the United States and Third World countries.

The club also raises money through its Blind Seal solicitation insert in The Observer News every fall. And Nov. 6 it will host its 2nd annual Sip & Paint at 2 p.m. in the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce banquet room, where participants are invited to drink wine and paint wine glasses. The $20 cost per person covers all supplies, plus wine and cheese. Last fall, more than 70 people took part.

All funding raised and donations collected by the local Lions go to the Sun City Center Lions Foundation, a 502(c)3 nonprofit.

Local Lions are most known for their eyeglass recycling program for seniors. Boxes are seen throughout the community soliciting any kind of used prescription eyewear, including sunglasses. Each piece of collected eyewear goes through a state recycling facility sent to have its prescription read so it can go to a low-income resident of the United States or Third World country. Rodriguez said her group receives about 1,500 pairs of donated eyeglasses per quarter.

Sun City Center Lions also provide new prescription eyeglasses and eye exams to local, eligible residents through Optimart, 3830 S.R. 674, near The Home Depot in Ruskin. Folks must demonstrate they are under financial hardship or have limited income. For information, call Terry McGovern at 813-633-4202.

The Sun City Center Lions Club is comprised of both men and women, many of whom are couples. Folks from all South Shore communities and ages are welcome. The group normally meets the second and fourth Wednesday of the month September through May and the fourth Wednesday of the month June through August at the Sandpiper Grill, 702 Pebble Beach Blvd. S, Sun City Center. Visitors are always welcome. Dining is off the menu, and the program is free.

For more information, call Rodriguez at 813-419-4187 or Steve Gargiulo, incoming Lions president, at 207-319-2476.