Helping people that have been devastated by natural disasters is nothing new to the Chester Lions Club. When the Chester Lions heard about the devastation in Oklahoma, the Club immediately wanted to do something to help. “Because of the network that Lions International provides, we were able to get in touch with other Lions Clubs in the Oklahoma City area who were providing relief efforts to the area,” said Lion Marie Messina, chair-person of the Stuff-a-Truck for Oklahoma drive. In the past, the Club has supported relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy, Katrina, the Tsunami, the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, and others. Whenever possible the Club tries to coordinate with other Lions Clubs to get supplies and funds directly in the hands of those who need them.
On June 21st to the 23rd, the Chester Lions held a “Stuff-a-Truck” to help the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes. When the Club contacted Troy Jenkins, Oklahoma Lions District 3-H Disaster Relief Chairperson, he asked for cleaning supplies, non-perishable food items, personal hygiene items, baby items, and tools. The Chester Lions goal was to fill an 18-wheeler with donated goods from the community and send it swiftly on its way. Because of the outpouring of generosity by local residents, businesses, and organizations the club was able to fill a truck with 13 pallets full of much needed supplies.
Before the drive even started in New Jersey, Lysol sent a truck to our contact in Oklahoma and delivered a pallet of cleaning wipes, cleaning solutions, and other products in the name of the Chester Lions. Additionally, several corporate employees were on hand to talk to the Lions about Lionism and their relief efforts. The Club also received large donations of books, non-perishable foods, and boxes from various companies.
But it wasn’t the big donations that were the most meaningful to the Lions. “We were so pleased to see the number of community members who came out to support this effort. Every little bit helps, and we couldn’t have filled the amount of boxes that we did without the help of so many individuals,” said Buddy Casillo, member of the Chester Lions Club and Chester resident.
The Chester Lions Club is extremely thankful for the help of the community in getting the word out about the event and making donations, and the Chester Township Mayor, Bill Cogger, the Chester Township Parks Commission, and the Chester Department Roads Department for the use of their facilities and help. The schools, churches, and community groups were invaluable resources in helping to publicize the Club’s efforts. The Club sends a big thank you to local businesses and organizations like Operation N.J. Cares and Reckitt Benckiser, parent company of Franks Red Hot, French’s Mustard, and Lysol Company, for their generous donations of goods.
The truck left for Oklahoma Friday, June 28.