After a short break, the popular St. Davids Lions fish fry returns this Friday, March 5, following all the necessary protocols and with an efficiency learned through trial and error last fall.
The intention was to mirror the wildly popular Lions burger Friday drive-thru the club held during the summer, creating a successful fundraising event that would allow the club to continue contributing to the community, which it did.
Club member Bradd Anderson says they will have a table with Lions members inside the door of the hall, where orders and money will be taken. People will be permitted to wait for their order inside, with distancing and masks.
He’s a huge fan and supporter of the Leo club members, the younger version of Lions, who will be working “front of house,” offering hand sanitizer, taking orders and doing the running, a welcome assistance to the Lions. “They’ve been a great help, both during the fish fries and the summer barbecue,” he says.
What the club has learned from its earlier efforts, Anderson says, was how to get the food out faster. They have got their wait time from ordering to receiving food down to about 10 minutes, but he hopes that would be a maximum, with most faster than that.
In addition to raising some funds for the community and meeting their “budgeted items,” including donations to local sports, and summer camps for children with diabetes or are blind, the Friday evening volunteer work is also good for the Lions members who want to stay active, and for the Leos, who are anxious to help out. With regular meetings and other events cancelled during the pandemic, the Leos are always asking for shifts at the fish fries, says Anderson.
“They’ve taught me how good life can be,” he adds, full of praise for the enthusiasm and work ethic of the young Leos. “They are so eager to volunteer.”
The fish fries are every other Friday, beginning March 5, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the St. Davids Lions Hall at 1462 York Rd.
In another effort to aid the community, the St. Davids Lions are distributing their second lot of casserole meal packages, with about 166 meal kits being assembled Wednesday, March 3, to be provided to Newark Neighbours, St. Catharines Community Care and the Westview Centre for Women in St. Catharines.
The kits contain the ingredients and a recipe that will provide a meal for four to six people.
Most of the food ingredients were donated by Lions and Lioness, and also through contributions from community grocery store partners, says Anderson.
The club had a budget to purchase the other ingredients that were needed, he says.
He estimated each meal at about $5.25, and thanks to donations, the club was able to put the kits together spending only 80 cents per meal.
Between all of those fundraisers, and the extremely successful Christmas tree sale, which saw the trees sold out about a week and a half earlier than usual, president Ted Burrows says the club was able to fulfill its budgeted donations to the charities they give to every year, but he’s not sure how long that can last.
“Now we’re trying to plan ahead, to see if we can meet those obligations next year.”
The answer to that may depend on whether or not the Lions hold their annual carnival in July, says Burrows.
The club has booked the amusement rides and pony rides for the event, but it’s far from a certainty it will take place.
“We’re waiting to see what happens,” he says. “We’ll have to make a decision, no later than the beginning of June, but maybe earlier.”
Some suggestions put forward by members are options for a scaled-down event, that won’t generate crowds of people, says Burrows.
One thing he’s pretty sure about is that whatever happens with the carnival, the popular hamburger nights are likely to continue. Everyone had fun, the volunteers and the customers, many of whom picked up their dinner and then spread out across the grass between the club house and the swimming pool to enjoy their dinner.
His only hesitation in considering running the barbecue again, he says, “is we don’t want to wear out our volunteers.”
And there is always the concern of pandemic restrictions, that have to be factored in to every decision, says Burrows.
“Because, just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something changes again.”