KNYSNA FIRES DISASTER RELIEF
June 11, 2017 was an extraordinary and very busy day. Port Shepstone Lions' resources were stretched far and wide with various projects. Although the main focus was the Knysna Disaster Relief project, we also conducted free diabetes testing, many of our members worked at the Creston College fundraiser and the previous night members ran an admin fundraiser at the South Coast Lifesavers fundraising drive. The outpouring of generosity from our local South Coast community, the tears, the laughter, the sheer determination to provide assistance to those affected was quite overwhelming. The day started with Diabetes testing where we witnessed people, from all walks of life, wealthy and not so wealthy, giving generously to our Knysna Disaster collection trolleys. At the collection point at Party Costume Hire in Umtentweni there were "mountains" of donations, plenty of tears and a community spirit that we have not witnessed for some time. Lion Ladies Jenny Vogt and Bella Gallagher were absolute STARS!! They worked tirelessly in organising their collection point, they networked with every individual that walked in to donate and they even labelled items donated. They also shed many tears of emotion with our wonderful donors. The collection point in Manaba Beach which was a combined Port Shepstone and Ramsgate Lions project was run by Port Shepstone Lion Jeff Smith and Ramsgate Lion Desiree Du Toit. They opened up their shop (C-Side Gas) to the hundreds of donors who literally filled up the shop with bags of clothing, blankets, boxes of groceries and even a microwave oven!. They too shed many tears of emotion. On Monday members gathered at the Port Shepstone Lions' clubhouse in Umtentweni, packed the large truck and trailer which transported all donations to Knysna. The amount of donations was so overwhelming that a second truck and trailer had to be arranged to transport items.
It's times like these that make me so proud not only to be a Lion but to be a South African. This project is not about Lions, it's about the sheer generosity of communities all over our country. Ordinary people who, without batting an eyelid have given generously to assist complete strangers who have lost everything. The past few days have been my most fulfilling during my term as Council Chairman. I have seen Lions from far and wide, from all over South Africa and Namibia come together to really make a difference. So many clubs set aside their planned Centenary celebration projects and focused on the Knysna disaster whilst some incorporated this relief effort into their centenary project. The fact that this all happened on the very day that Lions were celebrating 100 years of service world wide made the occasion bitter sweet but also showed me the sheer power of an organisation of volunteers determined to help those in need. I have witnessed communities rallying to support the victims and I have come to realise that there is nothing stronger than the human spirit. To all the Lions and other organisations in the Southern Cape who have given up ALL their time to receive our donations, sort them and then transport them to the affected communities, I salute you all and you are my true heroes!! Well done one and all - TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK!!
2016/2017 Chairman of the Council of Governors
Lions Multiple District 410