The McPherson Lions Club has taken on service projects in the community for more than 90 years, but that streak will come to an end next year. Because of its declining number and aging membership, the club has chosen to disband at the end of June 2018.
"We're like a lot of clubs, it's hard to get new members," said Don Blankenship, who has served as the McPherson Lions Club president in the past.
Though the McPherson Lions Club actively tried to recruit new people over the past few years, they have not had much success
Ward Ferguson, secretary for the McPherson Lions Club, said the group was organized on March 11, 1926. The enrollment at that date was 52 members.
“We’re out here to serve other people,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes, a club or something has just served its purpose.”
Ferguson first joined the Lions Club while living in Chanute in 1959 and transferred his membership to the McPherson Lions Club after he moved there in 1960. At that time, the club had 95 members.
"It has fluctuated. Now we're down to 12," Ferguson said.
It would take around five new members to keep the group going, Blankenship said — and those members would need to be younger in order to take on projects that require physical effort.
"We're supposed to be a service club, it's kind of hard to do that with guys that are the age they are," Blankenship said.
Blankenship and Ferguson said they estimate the current average age of the McPherson Lions Club members is around 84-years-old.
"There's so many other things going on, the younger members have too many other things to do," Blankenship said.
As the years have gone on, the club has had to drop out of participating in projects such as blood drives or the Christmas food baskets, which were done in partnership with the Kiwanis Club. Fundraisers such as used book sales and candy days where members would stand outside Dillons or Wal-Mart were also given up.
"We used to do highway cleanup twice a year," Ferguson said.
The McPherson Lions Club used the proceeds from fundraising events to provide eyeglasses for people in the city who could not afford them.
"The local optometrists are very good to work with us and check them to get them some glasses," Ferguson said.
The club also accepted donations of old eyeglasses that were shipped off and distributed to those living in poorer countries.
The McPherson Lions Club's annual meeting is held on the fourth Thursday of June each year.
"That'll be our last meeting," Ferguson said.
Until then, the club will continue to meet at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at Perkins Restaurant, 2111 E. Kansas Ave.
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