This year could be a fundraising record-breaker for the Cambridge Lions, with over $205,600 already funnelled into the community since January and more than $17,300 donated in grants during July alone.
Those figures are after the club has paid operating expenses generated through its truck and via its four main funding streams – the Lions Shed, Trash ‘n Treasure Market, the Lions Caravan, and Wallace Building, which the club owns and rents out. Assuming the trajectory continues, the club will be well placed to celebrate its 60th anniversary in December.
One of their biggest expenses is the food caravan, while the long-established Lions Shed in Vogel St brings in a sizeable percentage of their annual income. With Covid-19 enforced shutdowns closing the shed to the public, the club has adopted other strategies to keep goods moving, including the increased use of online platforms such as Trade Me and the Cambridge Grapevine.
The Lions Shed started operating in the mid-1970s. Lions Club president Warren Beard, shed director David Philip and team member Heide Wehrle, said community engagement has grown steadily, particularly in recent years. That is due in part, they said, to a resurgence of recycling that pitches the repurposing old items as fashionable, and in part to economic tensions linked to Covid-19.
When open to the public, the shed attracts about 100 regulars on a Saturday morning, said David. “On sale days, we can have over 200 people in the building.”
Far-flung buyers from around the region now use the shed regularly to swell the content of their op-shops. The shed also works closely with organisations like Cambridge Community House, Kids in Need Waikato and Safer Communities, often responding to urgent community needs with donations of free clothing and free furniture.
Over the last few years, they have given sizeable donations to various groups, among them $50,000 to the Cambridge Fire Brigade for a second response vehicle, $10,000 towards the refurbishment of the Lions Cancer Lodge, $7500 towards the refurbishment of the Cambridge Cricket Club rooms and $2000 to Cambridge Patchwork to make quilts for Camp Quality youngsters.
Heidi said the club’s reach was vast. It includes one-off contributions, such as purchase of lifting apparatus for Cambridge Resthaven rest home and a grant towards the Pump Track, as well as regular donations to organisations that include the Salvation Army, Achievement House and Cambridge Community House.
Warren said the club was able to give back to the community only because of the support given to the club’s activities. “We are very grateful for that support and are greatly respected in town because of our community involvement.”
David said the shed needed more ‘able-bodied’ volunteers to help with the work, particularly once they re-open to the public. “Our membership is generally in their 60s upwards, and although we do have a few helpers who are students at Cambridge High, we do need younger volunteers willing to give us a couple of hours a week.”
Those interested can contact David on 0274 929 211.