The Flintstone Lions Club is about to begin its annual fundraising sales of sweet Vidalia onions April 18. And it's a sweet deal - all the profits raised go to benefit low-income members of the community.
For the past 39 years the Lions Club has driven to Vidalia, Ga., where 8,000 pounds of Vidalia onions are loaded onto a 30-foot trailer. The group makes the 724-mile round trip in one day, said club president Leon Ellis.
These sweet onions only bring tears of joy, as sales last year brought in almost $5,000 and funded services to members throughout the community.
"Anything anyone needs who cannot provide it for themselves, we provide," Ellis said. "We will put a new roof on a house, install a wheelchair ramp or buy glasses for people who need them."
Early this year the organization provided the funds for a local man to have cataract surgery on both of his eyes.
"He was so excited. He told me his wife gets on him all the time now because he goes over everything since he's never been able to see it before," club treasurer Nadine Carden said.
Carden said people can't wait to buy the sweet onions. Club members are already taking orders.
The club sells 5-pound bags for $5, 10-pound bags for $10 and 25-pound bags for $20.
"A lot of people like to purchase the 25-pound bags because you get 5 pounds for free," Carden said. "We see a lot of people buy the bags and divide the onions."
People wanting onions can call the Lions Club or stop by the Dinner Bell Restaurant.
To receive help afforded by the sale, individuals must have a certain income level and live within the area.
"We help people with most almost anything that anyone needs help with that they can't do themselves," Ellis said.
The club is also working on the Georgia state line "Welcome to" sign originally placed by the local Kiwanis Club, which is no longer in existence. The Lions Club of Flintstone has been cleaning brush from around the sign and adding more churches and local organizations to the sign.
"Everything we do comes out of our own pockets. We don't take any of the money for ourselves we give to others," Ellis said.
The Flintstone Lions Club has been around since January 1970 and is rich in history. The walls of the Chattanooga Valley Clubhouse are filled with awards and the club has even received Lions Clubs International's most distinguished award: the Melvin Jones award.
The Flintstone Lions Club currently has 35 members and is looking for more. Carden said new members are always welcome; just call to let them know so they will make sure to have food for everyone.
"New members bring new ideas," Ellis said.
The Flintstone Lions Club meets at the Chattanooga Valley Clubhouse on the first and third Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. every month.
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