By: Kimberly Drake
The Lions Club of Minocqua, Wisconsin is like most other branches of the non-profit organization that dot the landscape in small towns across the nation, with one exception. The Minocqua Club has found a way to use guns and related gear to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their charity work, and every cent goes to those who need it.
Established in Illinois in 1916, Lions Club International has grown to 1.4 million members strong. Their vision, according to the club’s website, is “to be the global leader in community and humanitarian service.” Their work has historically concentrated on helping the blind, but has been expanded to include the environment, the disabled, those with special needs, and people suffering from hunger.
Minocqua’s special gun event started almost 20 years ago. A group of lions led by Gregg Walker, president of the club at the time and publisher of the local newspaper, The Lakeland Times, arranged meetings with other clubs in the area to brainstorm new ways to raise money for the many charities they support.
“We had events with prize giveaways at the time, but other organizations who did events with firearms prizes, like Ducks Unlimited, weren’t as big then, so we created an annual event centered around guns and related gear as prize giveaways and scattered the event around town; it was held in a different dining establishment every year,” Walker told Gunpowder Magazine.
‘We Are Always at Capacity’
Turnout for the first event was strong, and participation continued to grow.
“We are always at capacity and eventually outgrew what the restaurants could hold,” Walker said. “The event was moved to the Minocqua Country Club, where every year it is at maximum capacity, around 200-250 people.”
The popularity of this event overflows into the community as well, as local businesses are more than willing to donate to the cause. Rifles, shotguns, and related hunting gear, as well as items like chainsaws and TVs are either purchased for the event by the Lions Club or generously donated by others. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for many local and outlying charities.
Some of the recipients of the club’s hard work include the local Lakeland Food Pantry, Lakeland Sharing Foundation, Dr. Kate Hospice, Special Olympics, veteran’s organizations, and post-secondary education scholarships for students. State-wide and nationally, the club supports the Wisconsin Lions Foundation, American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge for cancer patients and their families, Lions Camps for the Blind, leader dog programs, and several other organizations in need.
‘No Opposition Whatsoever’
The addition of the guns and gear event has helped those in need and promoted local business with “absolutely no opposition whatsoever,” Walker said. Legalities are a priority, and the club follows all state and federal firearms regulations.
“There is a registration table on site at the event,” Walker said. “All recipients must register weapons they receive before leaving the building.”
This fun night of comradery, which takes place in early October, is anticipated by hundreds of people every year. Its timing falls right in the middle of Wisconsin’s small game, duck, turkey, and game bird season and precedes gun deer season by a few weeks. The excitement for the event has been consistent since its debut 18 years ago and shows no signs of fading away.
Those who attend say it appeals to them because they are hunters, sportsmen, and law-abiding citizens who also want to give back to the community. This mindset of humanitarian values, shared by many event attendees, represents what most of those who support the Second Amendment stand for, and it’s an aspect continually ignored by those opposed to the right to bear arms. Firearms serve as a means of self-defense and sport, and sometimes, they raise funds for charity organizations desperately in need.
Photo courtesy of The Lakeland Times.
Kimberly Drake is a freelance columnist from Minocqua, Wisconsin. Contact her at email@example.com.
Lead photo credit: Shutterstock