Shaking My Bucket

My stories don’t generally cover my personal activities, but do include brief examples of life lessons. Today I awoke at six, a full half hour before the opportunity alarm sounded. The temperature in the house was down to sixty-eight degrees, the lowest since last winter. Outside, the first frost of autumn displayed a soft white glaze over the lawn.

I shuffled down to my personal bath in the basement and shaved a four day beard. My appearance today had to be sharp and clean. It was show time for my Lions Club. Candy Day 2018 is a very important fundraiser for Lions Illinois Foundation. Basically, we (Lions) stand at intersections and at storefronts shaking our buckets. Our buckets are empty one gallon plastic milk jugs with a hole cut into the side. We paste a Lions Candy Day label on the side to cover the dairy label. As we say we shake our cans looking as pathetic as we can asking the public for money. 

My station this morning was at the local Dunkin-Donuts shop. I asked our event leader where I should stand. He said, “Oh just hang around the front door.” This was my first experience standing in front of a store shaking my can. In previous years I stood in an intersection at the Burger King. That was an adrenaline producing work out because with traffic coming at me from three directions it kept me moving out of the way. The worst was dodging a semi-truck delivering to one of the stores in the plaza. They need a lot of room to make a turn and the trailer typically cuts across the spot where I usually stood. 

Within two minutes of covering the front door I saw where I should be standing. The drive by takeout window had a line of cars six long. I went there and stood in one place. A very dour group of drivers lowered their windows to reach out with a dollar or with a handful of change scrounged from the console. In return I handed each of them a roll of mints, hence the name Candy Day.

The Lions Illinois Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization and a means used by Illinois Lions Clubs to provide statewide services for the visually and hearing impaired.

It was founded July 1, 1974, is registered with the Office of Illinois Attorney General, and qualifies 501c# tax-exempt organization.

All programs are approved by Lions at the annual membership meeting in May. The Foundation is governed by Elected trustees from each district.

The Lions Of Illinois Foundation is devoted to the highest Lions ideals of service to those with vision or hearing impairments.

Through the Foundation, communities and clubs benefit from these services:

  • Camp Lions for Children and Adults
  • Adult Low Vision
  • Lions of Illinois Statewide Student Low Vision Valuation Clinics
  • Mobile Retinal Screening Unit
  • Mobile Hearing Screening Unit
  • Used Hearing Aid Bank
  • Recycling: Used Eyeglasses, Hearing Aids, Keys, Cell Phones, wire and Aluminum tabs
  • Social Services and Referral
  • Lions of Illinois Funds for Emergencies (L.I.F.E.)

It is funded mainly by club contributions from Candy Day, Sight and Sound Sweepstakes, Tootsie Pop Day, Gift Card Campaign, Annual Gala, Car Show and BBQ.

The Foundation led a campaign to raise $5 million to finance construction of the Lions of Illinois Eye Research Institute (L.I.E.R.I.) in Chicago, as well as the campaign to raise $1.1 million to finance the Charles I. Young Professional Chair.

The above explains why I stood in drive-through window at Dunkin-Donuts on the morn of the first freeze to shake my can in an attempt to help my club support L.I.F.

Several kinds of people came across my path:

1. Non-smiling, sleepy looking, caffeine deprived early morning risers who slowly groped about the car seeking change, but eventually opened a wallet to pull a dollar bill or two. Even though they didn’t look at me smilingly they cheered up when I told them to have a “great day.”

2. Smiling, cheerful, eagerly rolling down the window to load my can with paper money or a handful of change. They thanked me and accepted the mints with a broad smile.

3. The drive-by, usually with black windows who couldn’t be identified, and impossible to make eye contact with. I waved and wished them a good morning anyway.

Dark Windows is any one in there?

4. Smiling, cheerful, eagerly rolling down the window to tell me that he doesn’t carry cash.  I tell him next time I will have a credit card machine. He laughs as I tell him to have a wonderful day/

After an hour and forty-five minutes my bones were chilled and aching. My shaken bucket was full so I gave it up for the day.

It’s Morning in Frankfort

The opportunity clock rang at 6:15 this morning for the second day in a row. Normally, I just sleep until nature wakes me. Yesterday and today were special. It was Lions Candy Day weekend. We Serve is the motto of the Lions club and I take that seriously. In spite of the fact that I was tired this morning, I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 6:30 and dressed. I left without breakfast. Peggy thought I was crazy, because I am never awake for more than ten minutes before I’m shoveling food into my mouth.

I met my fellow Lions at Starbucks. We got our candy, collection buckets, and assignments from Lion Sue and took off. I went to Burger King and had breakfast. As I ate, I watched the intersection that I would be manning and realized that Saturday morning is a loser. The morning before, I was a target from three directions. The number of cars, trucks and UFO’s coming at me was voluminous. This morning things were kind of sleepy, like me. I called Lion Sue and asked for a new corner. She assigned me to route 45 at Nebraska. Okay, anything would be better than 45 and Colorado. I stood at the intersection for an hour and collected about ten bucks. As I stood there I had the chance to see things that struck  a chord. It was Frankfort waking up. I saw people jogging and walking dogs along quiet village  streets and trails. The roar of trucks and heavy traffic was not there. In fact, the singing tires of a car speeding along on U.S. 45 was predominant. A garbage truck turned onto Nebraska and pulled into the Creamery parking lot to empty the dumpster. I hummed a tune to keep my mind active, and remembered President Reagan‘s essay It’s Morning In America. Normal people were going about their business oblivious to the effect of big government taking over their lives. They went about the affairs of life that they had control over.

Lion Sue bailed me out and sent me to the Jewel. I couldn’t believe the action there either, Jewel was slow. If Peggy and I were shopping on a Saturday, Jewel would be having grocery basket accidents in the aisles. Even so, collections were a tad better than at the last corner. I collected about twenty bucks  in a half hour.

My next assignment was at White and Nebraska. There was no one at the corner from the Lions. I took up the post and within ten minutes had collected more than I had in the previous two hours. There was a charity run in town, and the traffic it generated was crazy. It was non-stop cars for the next two hours. It was a  Candy Day Salesman’s dream. The money collected is a necessary commodity to keep our Camps open for kids with blindness. Selling candy is secondary to the notion that the end result serves a higher purpose.

People saw me standing there and approached cautiously with the window rolling down. A dollar bill emerged and dropped into my bucket. I handed the driver a roll of candy and got a smile and a thank you in return. I have to admit, people were giving generously and cheerfully.

I returned home at 12:30, ate a sandwich, and collapsed into a deep sleep on the couch. I dreamed about the next challenge coming in two weeks, the Strides Walk.

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