Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Chris Lewis believed in “service clubs.”

Not just handing out cheques or social clubs — but getting your hands dirty in a good way — breaking a little sweat, dishing up burgers and brats for worthy causes.

Proudly flying the Canadian flags.

And having lots of fun within an international fraternity of more than 1.4 million men and women.

The former Lions District A12 governor’s passion for community service lives on large after his passing early last year at age 52.

In 2013-14 he initiated the club’s Day of Service, where members go out and do anything they can to help where they live.

It had nothing to do with fundraising.

And all about “giving back,” said his wife Marjorie, who with her daughter Jess and a dozen club members were at the Lions Lookout Park this morning at 9 a.m. — rakes, brooms and bags in hands.

The day has become widespread and is now officially the ‘Chris Lewis Day of Service’ that has been picked up by clubs across the A12 District and now across Ontario and some other provinces, and including some clubs in the U.S.

Team Lions celebrated Chris Lewis Memorial Service Day by doing the custodial best to tidy up the Lions Lookout Park today.

Roadside clean-ups are popular.

In Barrie today Lions are planting trees, in Alliston visiting retirement homes.

The Gravenhurst spring clean-up of the popular little neighbourhood park at the north end of town has become a tradition.

It’s more of a spruce-up as they picked up a little litter — though Jess Lewis did reach deep into the surrounding woods overlooking Lake Muskoka to pull out a Coke can and paper debris that blew into the nearby bush.

“Families around here, who use the park, take pretty good care of not leaving much garbage,” said 81-year-old Lion Dave Durand.

That meant more raking for he and his wife Nancy, 82, and the others who picked up sticks, swept up bench seating areas and tidied up the large wood-chip area that makes for a safe landing of kids flying off swings or falling off the playground equipment the Lions paid for the town to install with the club’s purple colours a couple of years ago.

The club has adopted the park and helps maintain it with also a “little library” they stocked up with books Saturday — which they do about three times a year.

In 2020 to mark Lions’ centennial year the club donated a six-foot tree at the corner of Winewood and Austin streets, which has now grown a further four feet and some day will be a cornerstone landmark kids could one day climb.

The local Lions are well-known for their popular Canadian flags they line Muskoka Road with each year — often replacing worn flags mid-summer and a few that get stolen. This year they go up in June till after Labour Day. They’re getting help from high school students.

It’s just part of what Lions do each year for this community.

During the pandemic while meeting by Zoom, they were also out for about 10 months, twice weekly, providing “coffee breaks” for workers at the Muskoka Shores LTC — thanks in part to coffee donated by McDonald’s where Chris Lewis was manager till his death in January 2021. The club also bought sweets to hand out.

For many years they were down at the Muskoka Tourism office on Hwy. 11 providing ‘Driver Reviver’ coffee and sweets to welcome and give visitors a few minutes break from behind the wheel.

They resumed in-person meeting April 7.

Members will also be out next month selling hot dogs and hamburgers at the Chamber of Commerce Car Show June 18 on Father’s Day weekend.

The club meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month at the Frosty Pint, at 6 p.m., and welcomes new members. Drop by or reach out if you’d like to join them in doing their great community service.

Or if you’d like to help clean up at the park the first Saturday in May, 2023. Of course you can do your own community service any day, too.

It shows how one person with a good idea can take off and make it work and spread a good deed.

Chris Lewis would appreciate it.

And you’ll be doing yourself and the community a world of good.

Lion Marjorie Lewis talks about the club’s annual project today at Lookout Park named after the club.

Whether with a broom or rake, it didn’t matter, Lions bagged dozens of paper sacks for pickup next weekend during the first of two leaf pickups this month in Gravenhurst.
Lion Bud Leonard, who is in his 80s, pulled on his work gloves and was among the first raking.
Longtime Lions Dave and Nancy Durand were happy to get out and get some exercise after a long winter indoors.
Up and down the hill, overlooking Lake Muskoka, Lions did their best to spruce up the tiny parkette named in their honour.
Jess Lewis digs deep and comes up for a Coke can and a handful of paper in the periphery bush to stuff in her garbage bag.
Charlene Jones gives her kids Nevaeh, Zander and Zion a push before the family from Huntsville came to help pick up. They were happy to help as relatives of Chris Lewis.
Time to fill the shelves for young readers who take and return books and can also grab a piece of chalk if they’re so inclined for fun.
Books like the Wizard of Oz fill help replenish the little library at least three times a year.
In 2020 club members planted a tree to celebrate Lions’ international’s centennial year.


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Twitter: @muskokatoday, Facebook: mclairmont1

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