Optimists Keep Neighbors Connected

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The Rim Country Optimist Club's "subtitle" is Friends of Youth. And it is because of the youth, members of the club work so tirelessly.

It is probably best known for its efforts to make the holidays happy for the less fortunate residents of the community. It is the group that puts together the Community Christmas Food Drive program.

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Members of the Rim Country Optimist Club sort through cans of food as part of the group's annual Christmas Food Drive.

With support from residents, businesses, churches, youth and other clubs and organizations. the program keeps Rim Country neighbors connected to one another, something that benefits the entire community.

The Payson Lioness Club started the Christmas food basket program in 1986, when 167 boxes were prepared to give those in need a nice Christmas dinner, plus some extra food for coming weeks. Over the years, the number of boxes prepared for distribution has varied.

The Optimist took over the program in 2002 and prepared more than 330 boxes for residents in need. The following year the number of boxes of food sent out exceeded 350.

Irma Bramlet has coordinated the program for the Optimists since the group took it over, working with a core committee of 10. And before that, she helped the Lionesses for several years.

The boxes go to residents in the immediate area around Payson, which includes Strawberry, Pine, Star Valley, Gisela, Tonto Village, Christopher Creek and Young.

Another big event for the Optimists is the annual Fishing Festival for area youth. That is being planned for April 12.

One of the goals of the Optimist Club is "to aid and encourage the development of youth."

In an effort to meet the goal, the Payson club joined forces with the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Payson Community Christian School to host the inaugural Kids Fishing Festival last year.

This year, the Kids Fishing Festival is a cooperative effort of Optimist Club, Payson Parks and Recreation Department, Game and Fish, KRIM-FM, Payson Community Christian School, Printing by George and John Wisner. It will be held at Green Valley Park from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12.

There will be give-aways, classes on fishing, a Bragging Board to record big catches. Food will be provided for purchase and there will be lots of raffles.

In addition to the fishing festival, the club has helped fund many other youth projects around the Rim Country, including Little League teams, a Payson Center for Success Career Day, the Chance Amon Memorial Scholarship, past PHS graduation parties, Town of Payson Trunk or Treat, an annual magic show, Bowling for Kids Sake and the Non-violence Day Family Rally.

The club also worked with students from the Payson Center for Success of the Payson Unified School District to deliver Easter baskets to the elderly this year.

Rim Country Optimist Club

Formed: April 15, 1996

Officers: Irma Bramlet is the club president; she can be reached at (928) 472-6327.

Meetings: The club's board meeting is held at 5:30 p.m. the second Wednesday; its general meeting is held at 5:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday and often includes a speaker at 6 p.m. Both meetings are held at the Crosswinds Restaurant at the Payson Airport.

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