By Susan DeRemer

August is back-to-school month and the perfect time to talk about helping out local youth.

As Lions celebrate our 100th year, we are continuing our Centennial Service Challenge goal of serving more than 100 million people by June 2018. These efforts are focused on youth, relieving hunger, saving vision and protecting our environment. This August we are directing our focus on helping youth.

To support local youth we are collecting school supplies for Kases for Kids, initiating Lions Young Leaders in Service Awards, preparing for our Student Speaker Contest and providing children’s books to the Westside Family Health Center, where we have also scheduled a day of service on Oct. 15 to stuff diaper bags or backpacks.

Two of the projects above are specifically designed to help young women and men become the leaders of the future. Young Leaders in Service Awards give formal recognition to young volunteers, ages 12-18, who have completed 50 or 100 hours of community service within a 12-month period. We are reaching out to the community service departments at Santa Monica-Malibu public schools, Crossroads, St. Monica’s and New Roads School as well as Archer and Brentwood schools since they don’t have local Lions clubs. If you have a son or daughter who is interested in participating, please contact your school or Susan at (310) 442-9513 or santamonicalion@gmail.com for more information and the necessary forms. This award looks great on college applications.

The other leadership opportunity is the Student Speaker Contest. It will not start until February, but we do have the topic: “Is the right to privacy a threat to our national security?” As students advance through the statewide competition, there are cash prizes that could ultimately amount to more than $40,000. We will be getting special packets to schools that participated in the past. If your student or school is interested in participating, please contact us santamonlicalion@gmail.com. It is never too early to start thinking about the topic.

Besides supporting youth projects, we are also happy to work with local youth, such as the kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica. On Saturday, Sept. 17, amazing young volunteers from SMBGC will help local Lions with our 62nd-annual Pancake Breakfast. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious (especially at 6:30 a.m. when we are setting up!) and it would not be possible for us to do this event without their help. To see them in action, join us from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. for hot fluffy pancakes, succulent sausage, delicious scrambled eggs, orange juice, milk and coffee. The event is held at the Boys and Girls Club on Lincoln Boulevard and tickets cost $5. There are lots of fun events for children and a raffle with drawings throughout the morning. For more information, go to our Facebook page or contact Susan at (310) 442-9513 or santamonicalion@gmail.com. Funds raised from this event go back into the community to support Santa Monica and Westside nonprofits.

For more information about the Lions Club, visit www.facebook.com/smlions or http://e-clubhouse.org/sites/santamonica, call 310-623-4499 or reach them at P.O. Box 3435, Santa Monica, CA 90408.

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