Lions spread Acts of Kindness cash

Christian Johnson, 7, of Grand Junction wistfully eyes a present delivered by Steve Stewart, right, of the Grand Junction Lions Club to his home as part of the service organization’s Randon Acts of Kindness program Tuesday.

The Grand Junction Lions Club is again surprising local folks who need a helping hand with its annual Random Acts of Kindness campaign.

Each Lions Club member was given a $100 bill Tuesday during the group’s luncheon meeting at Two Rivers Convention Center. From there, the members passed the money along any way they pleased to someone who could use the help to make their life a little brighter.

There were countless ways for members to use the money. Club members suggested selecting families whose names hang from giving trees, making direct donations to charitable organizations, or purchasing food for the local food bank.

Some, such as Tony Azzam, left the meeting knowing exactly what to do with the cash. Azzam intended to give it to a family on the verge of home foreclosure.

Others, such as Steve Stewart, selected recipients from a stack of nominations provided by the Mesa County Department of Human Services. One heartbreaking nomination described a family facing the tragic death of two members in a car accident, staggering medical bills and unemployment. Another said a woman was in desperate need of car repair.

Stewart, who owns The Foreign Aid auto repair business, called the woman immediately, offering to fix her car in his shop.

To help the other family, Stewart approached club members, asking them to pool their kindness money for the family so tragically down on its luck.

“These guys are in desperate need,” Stewart said, “Our club motto is do the most good for the most people, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Stewart collected an extra $300 dollars from club members Evan Walton, Patty Howell and Jordan Statler for the family. Stewart used his $100 bill to purchase Christmas gifts for the father and his 7-year-old son. He delivered the cash and presents to the family Tuesday night.

“We do a good job of finding those who are in need,” Lions Club President Josh Aubert said, “and I think the spirit of the season really drives this.”

At one point in the year, Aubert said, the club discussed ending the “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign, which has been taking place for the last five years. The club decided that because of the state of the economy, the community “needed it more this year, more than ever before.”

Aubert said club members often approach friends or area businesses to raise matching funds or other donations for needy families.

“We give out close to $10,000 in cash (Tuesday), and we turn that into $40,000 or $50,000 dollars in donations,” he said.

Jeff Kirtland agreed the community needs the help. He said he plans to give his $100 to Kids Aid, a program that provides 1,500 backpacks filled with food to students in School District 51 each week.

In previous years, Aubert said, the money was used to purchase prescription drugs for people, pay school tuition bills, or buy sleeping bags for the homeless shelter.

“You just never know what people are going to do with it,” he said.


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