The Dodge City Lions Club has flipped pancakes for the benefit of local students and charities for more than 70 years.

In conjunction with the Tournament of Champions, the Lions Club will put on its annual Pancake Feed next weekend at the National Guard Armory Jan. 19 to 21.

The local Lions focus their efforts on promoting healthcare and technology education. Money raised from the Pancake Feed allows the group to sponsor scholarships for Dodge City Community College nursing and technical programs, and the Wild West STEM camp for local fifth graders.

Additionally, the group donates to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Circle of Hope Cancer Organization, as well as financial support for Dodge City High School band students.

Aiding the blind and sight-impaired has also long been an area of assistance for the Lions Club as a whole. The Dodge City Lions carry on that tradition by sponsoring an annual Lions screening bus where individuals can have their hearing checked, their eyes screened for acuity as well as disease, and have their blood tested for signs of diabetes.

Locally, the club helps about a dozen lower-income residents purchase glasses and pay for eye exams and eye care each year.

Dodge City Lions participate in a program in which old glasses are collected and sent to the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. Trained volunteer inmates then determine the prescription level of each set, perform cleaning and minor repairs, and then box the glasses to be distributed free of charge in third-world countries.

The Lions expects to feed well over 1200 people at the fundraiser. Attendees put away 2,600 pancakes and sausages last year, along with thousands of cups of coffee.

The club itself has seen a steady and dramatic decline in membership in recent years. Chairman of the Pancake feed and club treasurer Charles Wilkerson estimates less than a dozen men are currently active members.

"It's that way with most clubs and even churches," Wilkerson said. "I think people have other things to spend their time, but we keep trying to do our part for the community."

The event is the Lions Club's sole fundraiser each year, so increasing community support is vital. "This pretty much has to run us for doing all our programs," Wilkerson said.

Advance tickets for the Pancake Feed are $5 and can be purchased from a Lions Club member, at the Christian Book House, 702 N. Second, or $6 at the Armory.

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