Sandpoint Lions Club celebrates its 70th anniversary serving Bonner County
By Jillian Chandler
Serving the community since 1953, the Sandpoint Lions Club (SLC) has been a vital part of the fabric that makes up this place we call home.
“The Sandpoint Lions Club is a historical part of this community. From the construction of Sandpoint City Beach to our original members refurbishing toys for the kids in 1953, we have been the go-to service club for this community,” smiles Janice Rader, current president of SLC.
Their mission statement reads: “To empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions Clubs.”
Janice and SLC members come together and work closely with the community during several annual events throughout the year. “This helps us build our close relationships with neighbors in our community and gives us insight into what the community needs and helps us meet these needs,” she shares.
The Sandpoint Lions Club is responsible for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, the Fourth of July Celebration (including the parade and fireworks show at City Beach), an annual Halloween Haunted Maze, and Turkey Bingo to kick off the Lions Club’s Toys for Tots program. “By hosting these events, we get to know the community we serve,” says Janice. “We grow our friendships with the community members and local businesses to help everyone network our resources.”
The Sandpoint Lions Club has been hosting events locally since 1953, and one tradition that continues, the Saturday prior to Easter, is the Sandpoint Lions Club’s annual Easter Egg Hunt! Each year, approximately 20 volunteers come together to continue this fun-filled morning filled with laughter and smiles; the perfect way to kick off those Easter festivities and celebrations a day early. This year’s Easter Egg Hunt takes place Saturday, April 8, with the egg hunt starting promptly at 9am at Lakeview Park (609 South Ella Avenue) in Sandpoint.
“This is such a fun event for the kids,” affirms Janice. “It’s events like this that bring our community together.”
The annual hunt will happen rain, shine … or snow! Be sure to dress for the weather and be ready for an exciting, fast-paced morning. Each year, around 2,000 children and family members show up to the hunt to search for the hundreds of candy-filled plastic eggs. Hunts are broken down by age categories and, as Janice shares, the hunting is usually over in less than 10 minutes!
For the past two years, there have been special golden eggs hidden, and those lucky kiddos who discovered one of those golden eggs received a free bicycle, courtesy of the Lions Club. This year, there won’t be special golden eggs, but kids will still have the chance to win one of approximately 10 bicycles (including two ride-on toys for the babies)! Be sure to check all of your plastic eggs before you leave the hunt to see if you’re a winner.
There will be coffee available, courtesy of Starbucks Ponderay, at the Lions Club parking lot, as well as hot cocoa for the kids thanks to the Lions Club. And for the first time this year, according to Janice, there are plans to have Girl Scout cookies for sale at this event. Keep an eye out as additional details are announced online at Facebook.com/SandpointLionsClub.
You can join the Sandpoint Lions Club every third Friday of the month for their Monthly Bingo Night. Held at the Sandpoint Community Hall, doors open at 5pm. The games are $1, with proceeds going to benefit the Lions Club programs, such as the Children’s Cancer Foundation, diabetes education, sight and hearing programs, and their Toys for Tots program.
The Sandpoint Lions Club is also looking forward to hosting their annual Fourth of July Parade, which is just a few short months away. Janice and the rest of the Lions Club hopes you, your friends and family can make it out and celebrate with them. Janice adds, “I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiling faces at this year’s 70th anniversary celebration! It makes the long volunteer hours worth every minute!”
The club is currently working toward being able to offer more youth-based events as well as growing the programs currently offered to better suit the community’s needs.
As of January 1 of this year, Janice is excited to share that they have 16 new members—and they’re adding to these numbers every month! “This is exciting for the future of the club. While preserving our club history and respecting the members who came before us, new ideas and new events are being added and explored on a regular basis. Having an open mind and seeing what new members have to offer is a huge step forward for the Sandpoint Lions Club.”
They currently have 26 members, with three more expected to join this month. All that is required of members is to attend meetings when possible and help with the club’s events when available. “We are growing as a club. This growth is helping us to better understand what it takes to have a long-standing club in our area,” notes Janice.
The club invites the community to attend their meetings, which are held on the second and fourth Monday at 6pm, to see what exciting things they have planned for the future. Janice encourages anyone interested in joining to do so. “Being a member of this club fills a social void for many of its members,” she says. “Being able to come together and share ideas and thoughts can be a life-changer.”
They are looking for anyone 18 and older who has the energy to implement new ideas to become a member, and as Janice affirms, “Keeping younger members in our club will help assure the continuity of the club for years to come.”
Janice previously held the position of treasurer within the club and has been involved with the Sandpoint Lions Club since 2015. She was voted as the club’s president in June of 2021. “As president of the club, I love to delegate tasks and run the bi-weekly meetings. You will find me at every event we hold. I enjoy seeing every smiling face at each of our events! My goals are to help our club grow and protect the legacy that is the Sandpoint Lions Club.”
The Rader family are big advocates and supporters of the Sandpoint Lions Club: Janice’s husband Neal serves as vice presidents; their daughter Goldie serves as the club’s secretary; son Derrick and wife Jennifer are members; and daughter Karli is also a member. “My family knows that if they want to spend time with me, I’ll be at the Lions’ events!” Janice laughs.
When it comes to what she finds most rewarding as president of the Sandpoint Lions Club, she says this: “Watching people smile as they realize that the Sandpoint Lions Club is here to help brings me the most joy—especially during the Christmas season. People become nervous when they are expected to provide joy for kids and it isn’t always possible. The SLC is happy and excited to help! Seeing the faces of parents when they realize they can provide something for their family gives me the most fulfillment.”
Thank you, Sandpoint Lions Club, for the decades of commitment, service and fun you’ve provided our community. And here’s to many, many more.