Lions leave legacy to local nonprofit


XENIA — The Xenia Lions Club continued its service to the community even as the organization ceased operations in April.

The decision to disband the organization was a result of declining membership. One of the service club’s final official acts was to transfer the balance of the club’s bank account to Toward Independence. Toward Independence, with its headquarters in Xenia, is a nonprofit established in 1975 and currently provides a variety of services in six counties to more than 200 people with developmental disabilities. The Xenia Lions Club’s gift will assist Toward Independence in furthering its mission to enrich those lives.

“The members voted and chose Toward Independence to receive these funds because they felt the money would be put to good use to support the people who Toward Independence serves,” said immediate past president Rodger Sanders.

The long history of the Xenia Lions Club began in 1920. Although the Lions disbanded temporarily a couple of times in the ensuing decades, the club’s history in Xenia spanned nearly 100 years from November 1920 to April 2020. The most recent configuration of the Xenia Lions Club dates back to the 1960s. From that time to the present, the Lions held community fund-raisers, and collected and donated eyeglasses, hearing aids, and used cell phones. The eyeglasses went to needy individuals in less-developed countries, the hearing aids to St. Rita’s School for the Deaf, and the cell phones to the women’s shelter. The Lions also assisted Xenia adults, children and families in need by purchasing new eyeglasses and hosting Christmas dinners where gifts were given to many of those in attendance.

Lions members also sponsored popular events in the 1970s-80s like the July 4 car shows and fireworks displays at the fairgrounds.

Notable Xenia Lions Club members include several Lions International district governors: Douglas Kelly, 1972–1973; Harold Rodkin, 1978–1979; Harold Aikens, 1990–1991; and Reginald Evans, 1994–1995.

Some members of the former Xenia Club are transferring to the Jamestown Lions Club so they can continue the Lions Club’s mission.

Submitted photo Xenia Lions Club members David Jordan (left) and Rodger Sanders (right) present a check to Toward Independence CEO Mark Schlater. photo Xenia Lions Club members David Jordan (left) and Rodger Sanders (right) present a check to Toward Independence CEO Mark Schlater.

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