Gifts Of Sight And Sound

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David Larkins is 90 years old and he has been a Lion for more than half his life, both in Chandler and Payson.

"We do a lot of good and I've had a lot of fun in the past 52 years. We have bought eye glasses for a lot of people and made floats for the rodeo parades," he said.

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Sight and Hearing Chairman Sandy Phillips just laughs when members don't want to pay a fine for not prefacing their name with the title Lion.

Pat, Becky and Robert were among the 24 people the Payson Lions Club was able to send to Payson Eye Care for an exam and glasses between January and mid February 2008.

Anyone can apply to the Lions for vision or hearing assistance. The club works with Risser Thomas and Payson Eye Care offices in addition to referring people to the Lion Foundation's Valley office.

Lions make sure that the people of many nations they assist with recycled eye glasses, get glasses that are not only the right prescription but that fit and look good on them.

The Lions raise money by member and community donations plus the annual Walk for Sight that raises awareness for those who are blind and visually impaired. This raises money for the Sight and Hearing Foundation.

"Participation in this event is a great way for your organization to earn community service hours, show compassion for those in need and support youth and adults from our area who are in need of eyeglasses, eye surgery and/or treatment," Lion vice president Judy Spivey wrote in an e-mail.

The 2007 walk raised $4,200, topping the state in donations for this annual event.

Attendees at a typical weekly meeting will face a ‘lion tamer' and a ‘tale twister.' The designated tamer takes care of lunch tickets, sign-up sheets and Lion paraphernalia.

The designated twister gets to fine people for things such as talking out of turn and not prefacing their name with the title Lion. The ‘King Mountain Lion' is a monthly fund-raising auction for the furry hat. The hat comes with privileges such as the ability to disrupt a meeting without being fined.

Another Lion tradition is when members from one club visit and steal the gavel of the host club. For a group with a serious mission, Lions certainly know how to have fun.

Payson Lions Club

Founded: 1963

Officers: Bonnie Holder, president, Phil Phillips, secretary and Cliff Adams, treasurer

Mission statement: "We serve."

Contact info: (928) 474-8091 or e-mail stayhold@msn.com

How to join, dues, donate: Dues are $80 per year. There is a $30 initiation fee. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made by contacting Holder or any Lion.

Meeting day, time and place: 5:30 p.m., Mondays at Tiny's Restaurant.

Contributions to community: Collection of used eyeglasses, elementary school grounds cleaning and beautification, Adopt a Highway program, scholarships, Flags for First Grade students program helping people obtain glasses or hearing aids and guide dogs.

Fund raisers: Annual Walk for Sight, twice-yearly White Cane Days.

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