Lions support literacy cause

As it has for many years, the Coon Rapids Lions Club is once again lending its financial and volunteer support to elementary schools in the city, all for the cause of literacy.

Coon Rapids Lions Club members showing some of the thousands of books donated each year to local elementary school students.
Coon Rapids Lions Club members showing some of the thousands of books donated each year to local elementary school students.

In all, nine elementary schools will be visited by the Lions club during the school year and the students are provided with at least one new book for them to keep as their own.

With Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 having recognized February as I Love to Read Month, most of the schools use this time to partner with the Lions as part of a larger emphasis on improving reading levels in our youth.

The club provides funds to each of the nine elementary schools in the community for the purchase of books.

Members then come to each school and participate in an event known as Books for BANGO. This version of a bingo game is used to distribute books to the students at the schools.

“Our members host games of BANGO with the classes at the school and the prizes for the games are the books purchased with the funds donated by the club,” said Diana Wyvell, Books for BANGO chairperson.

“Every student in the class participates and is given at least one book to take home for themselves.

“Any additional books left over from the event are donated to the school’s library for all students to share or are used throughout the year as awards for academic achievement.”

The schools do a great job buying the books and they help the Lions club make the event fun for the kids, according to Wyvell.

“The club members love to come to these events year after year, giving them the opportunity to interact with the staff and students at each school,” Wyvell said.

“It’s fun to watch the children progress through their school career and see their enthusiasm for reading and learning.

“It’s nice when the club gets out in the community to have the students actually look forward to seeing the Lions each year.”

Once again Hamilton Elementary School would like to thank the Coon Rapids Lions Club for funding the Books for BANGO program, said Principal Diane Merritt.

“It is a special day here,” she said.

“When our students are able to choose books to read it is indeed a gift. The more students read, the better they read.

“To paraphrase a quote from Helen Hayes, from your family you learn about love, laughter and how to put one foot in front of the other. But when books are opened, you discover that you have wings.”

The club looks at these events as a good investment in the community, according to Wyvell.

“By giving our youth an opportunity to improve themselves by providing the tools to do so, we can’t think of a better way to serve Coon Rapids,” Wyvell said.

“Over the years, it is estimated the Coon Rapids Lions have distributed between 60,000 and 80,000 books to the elementary students in Coon Rapids.

“We hope to continue this project for many more years to come and the Coon Rapids Lions Club would love to hear from any individuals in the community who may be interested in helping us with this and other events.”

Since the club’s chartering in 1954, the Lions have worked on a variety of projects in the local community, such as the Books for BANGO, as well as scholarships for students at Coon Rapids High School, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Anoka Technical College and Northwest Passage Charter School, in addition to supporting youth and community activities throughout the year in Coon Rapids.

The club is currently continuing to serve the community through its Recycle for Sight eyeglasses and hearing aids collections, community meal fund-raisers and other activities including volunteering at Feed My Starving Children and supporting health screenings at Coon Rapids High School.

The club meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m., with the meetings held on the second Wednesday at the Coon Rapids VFW.

For more information contact Dan Janish at 612-558-2851, visit the club’s website at or check out the club’s Facebook page.

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