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South Salt Lake Journal

Some Ho! Ho! Ho! with a breakfast to-go at annual Santa event

Jan 13, 2022 12:19PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Ashley Woodmansee keeps a family tradition going started by her grandfather, Albert Woodmansee, 35 years ago. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Santa showed up with a bunch of his helpers from the Lions Club of South Salt Lake to deliver breakfasts to-go to those waiting at the the Columbus Center (2531 S. 400 East). Cars started slowly arriving on the Dec. 4 morning, but the number increased as the sun rose.

Santa’s Lions Club helpers supplied a full hot breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage patties and orange juice, all for $5 a plate. The breakfast was packaged to-go.

“We thought of canceling it this year again, but with our partner, the Lions Club, we decided to see what happens,” Aaron West, recreation director, said. The event was sponsored by the SSL Recreation Department and was supported by the SSL Lions Club.

Before the pandemic, the event was held in the Columbus Center and included activities besides breakfast and Santa. In those days, 600-700 people attended.

For many families, such as the Stoddart family, who are former residents of SSL, the breakfast has been a 20-year tradition.

Others like Albert Woodmansee have been volunteering for decades. “I have been cooking breakfast for 35 years,” Woodmansee said. His family is following suit. 

His granddaughter, Ashley Woodmansee, was cooking pancakes nearby.

“You do not have to join the club in your area. You can join the club that works for you,” Ame Bennett, membership vice president, said.

“The Lions Club is a family effort,” Bennett said.

The Lions Club sponsors the “Lions Family Cub Program” for children and their families from ages 3 to 12. In addition, the Leo program (Leadership, Experience, Opportunity) is for teenagers giving them experience leading and serving their community.

Lions Club

Like many community service clubs, the Lions Club is experiencing dwindling membership in the United States. However, there are more than 1.4 million Lions around the world “serving together so they can make a lasting impact and change more lives.”

In response to the social problems created by World War I and rapid industrialization, Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessperson, invited business clubs from across the United States to a meeting in 1917. The Association of Lions Clubs was formed.

Their name was explained in the January 1931 issue of “The Lion” magazine.

“Our name was not selected at random, neither was it a coined name. From time immemorial, the lion has been the symbol of all that was good, and because of the symbolism, that name was chosen. Four outstanding qualities—Courage, Strength, Activity, and Fidelity—had largely to do with the adoption of the name. The last mentioned of these qualities, Fidelity, has a deep and peculiar significance for all Lions. The lion symbol has been a symbol of Fidelity through the ages and among all nations, ancient and modern. It stands for loyalty to a friend, loyalty to a principle, loyalty to a duty, loyalty to a trust.”

The Lions went international in 1920 when a club was formed in Windsor, Canada. Today, there are more than 47,000 clubs in 200-plus countries. The Lions came to Utah in 1941. The SSL Lions Club was formed in 1945. Today there are 51 clubs in the state. Twenty-nine in northern Utah and nine in the Salt Lake Valley.

In 1925, Helen Keller addressed their convention in Cedar Point, Ohio. She challenged Lions to become “Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness.” The Lions accepted the challenge and, for over 100 years, have served the blind and visually impaired community. 

Among their initiatives was helping the blind and visually impaired become wage earners by making brooms and lampshades, creating blind and visually impaired Boy Scout troops, pushing for white cane laws (these laws designate a white cane with a red tip for blind or visually impaired individuals and giving them the right of way), establishing camps for the blind and visually impaired throughout the world and starting guide dog programs.

In 1945, the Lions opened the second eye bank in Buffalo, New York. In Utah, the Lions Club supports the Moran Eye Bank. In addition, Lions function as couriers for eye banks. Lions collected and distributed eyeglasses for many years. They also work on programs to save eyesight.

Beyond fulfilling their “Knights of the Blind” mission, the Lions built numerous community parks, such as the Lions Park at 361 East Robert Ave. in SSL. In addition, they helped form baseball teams and cooked breakfast at many community events as a fundraiser.

Santa made an appearance at this Lions event and hopefully started his busy day right with the robust breakfast to-go. 

“I have five jobs today,” Santa said.

Santa said that he has three to four jobs a day through the holiday season including virtual appearances.

“I’ve turn down 300 jobs this year,” Santa said. “The older guys are concerned about their health, and the younger generation haven’t matured enough yet.”