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Fall Festival reflects Oxford Lions’ dedication to the mission

By Rod Lee

Since its founding in 1916 by thirty-eight year-old Chicago businessman Melvin Jones, the Lions Club has grown into a global organization with a vast reach.

Lions Club members’ work—involving such worldwide service initiatives as building classrooms and water wells in Cambodia, empowering youth through an annual Peace Poster Contest, safeguarding Botswana against measles and saving children’s sight in India—is mirrored at the local level by the Oxford Lions Club and other area clubs.

On Saturday, September 22nd, with a chill in the air on an otherwise perfect first day of autumn, Oxford’s Lions hosted a Fall Festival that drew vendors, and participants, from near and far.

Elizabeth Luchina of Blueberry Cottage Creations was there, offering “custom creations from kids crayon bags to window treatments, monogramming and more;” so too Katie Toomey, who is running for Register of Deeds in Worcester County (“the first of four stops I am making today,” she said, against a backdrop of political signs including ones for fellow candidates Paul Frost, Ryan Fattman, Tom Merolli and Joanne Powell); Jen Trapuzzano of Worcester who was selling Mary Kay products for the third straight year (“it’s a good way to meet new people”); Sheldon Cohen “out of Boston,” with a variety of caps and apparel celebrating American veterans; Cornerstone Bank; the Naval Jr. ROTC; Aquarion; Hebert Honey; Massachusetts’ Best Academy of Dance; the Oxford United Methodist Church (with free apples); Oxford resident Amanda Peloquin who displayed wreaths she had handcrafted;  Hill’s Food Service based in Hudson whose Suzanne Wasserman described the enterprise as “home food delivery, we bring the supermarket to you.”

Nothing brings children to the table like pumpkins, which were in abundance at the Oxford Lions Club’s Fall Festival (photo courtesy of Bob Shedd).

Taking in the spectacle, Oxford Lions Club President Arvind Basil said “this year’s was the most response we’ve ever had. We had to tell [prospective vendors] we couldn’t accommodate them.”

Oxford Lions’ fundraising by way of events like the annual Fall Festival enable the club, which is located in District 33-A, to support a host of community causes including, but not limited to, Oxford Little League, the Oxford Bandstand, Massachusetts Lions’ eye research, NEADS, software for the Oxford Public Library, the town’s tri-centennial year trust, Reader’s Digest large-print books, Clara Barton Camp and Joslin Camp ice cream happenings, the Easter Bunny at the Bandstand and a children’s Christmas party with gifts.

Oxford Lions, like their counterparts elsewhere, thrive on developing new strategies to raise dollars for worthwhile purposes. In Florida it was LCIF Trustee Robert Littlefield challenging members of the Oveido-Winter Springs club to bag their loose change between meetings to feed the hungry. In Oxford, Mr. Basil notes, “we have Walmart collection days coming up plus a public shredding program where people can bring in paper or electronics. We recently donated to sixteen charities and we are donating food for the Merrimack Valley fire victims.”

“Get your military apparel” was the mantra of Sheldon Cohen, selling caps, T-shirts and more; he is a regular at the Oxford Lions Club’s Fall Festival.

Mr. Basil, who owns BIZ Imprints and Biz Cleaners in Dudley, has been involved with Lionism since 1983 and with the Oxford club since 2012. The Oxford club has twenty-three members and meets on an alternating basis the first and third Monday at Pine Ridge Golf Club and the Oxford Police Station.

With more than 46,000 clubs and over 1.7 million members around the world, Lions International undertakes a five-pronged mission concentrated on such issues as vision, hunger, the environment, children’s cancer and diabetes.

The Oxford Lions Club is doing its part to help in these causes.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.