WHALLEY — On Sunday afternoon at Donegal’s Irish House, a quartet of pub patrons grabbed some welcome sunshine on the patio. Inside, many more stared incredulously at the big screen as Jordan Speith self-destructed on the 12th hole and choked away a second consecutive Masters golf title.
At a little table near the entrance, a fellow by the name of Ron Smith (pictured) methodically cut a roll of generic raffle tickets into strips. He lay the strips on the table in front of him, and soon the table was nothing but tickets.
Just across the aisle, Bob Harrop readied himself to take the mic. Soon, he’d announce the winner of the day’s 3 p.m. draw prize.
Smith and Harrop, and at least a half-dozen others scattered throughout the pub, are proud members of the North Surrey Lions Club. The pride they feel is justified, because the local Lions folk are always out there, always working to help those less fortunate.
On April 10, like every Sunday since January of 2012, the Lions have come to Donegal’s to conduct their meat draw. Every hour on the hour from 1 to 4 p.m., they present a lucky patron with a packaged cut of meat. Ten minutes later, they draw again, this time for a 50/50 prize. It doesn’t cost much to play – just five bucks for a strip of 15 meat draw tickets or a strip of nine 50/50 tickets.
Paul Foodikoff is the Lions’ boss of meat draws. He’s a dedicated, salt-of-the-earth guy, who for much of his life worked a sawmill in Castlegar before retiring in Surrey. Before we spoke, he presented Donegal’s owner Daniel Smith a plaque as a thank-you for hosting the meat draws.
Foodikoff told me just what their meat draws have meant to the community – a ton. Since he began running the program in 2012, he says, the Sunday-afternoon gatherings have raised a stunning $36,498.90 at Donegal’s alone. Add to that the numbers from other pubs, such as the now-defunct Robin Hood and Wheelhouse, and the total jumps to an estimated $57,000.
What can you do with that kind of money? How about feeding breakfasts to 200-plus kids across 10 Surrey schools, every day of the school year.
And that’s exactly what the Lions have done.
Liane Ricou, the business development manager for Surrey Schools, says the district uses the money to buy fresh food, including milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Staples such as cereal, jam, and bread are provided by Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society. Put it all together and you have full breakfasts for a whole bunch of needy kids.
Ricou has nothing but praise for the Lions’ efforts.
“They’ve been a tremendous supporter of our breakfast programs for the past three years,” she said. “The kids come to school hungry and they need food so they can concentrate throughout the day, and the Lions have made a tremendous impact.”
Donegal’s Smith echoes the accolades, saying, “We wanted to get involved with the Lions because it’s great to have something where we give back to the community. The money that’s raised goes straight into this community instead of abroad.”
Foodikoff says he’s always had the goal of feeding 1,000 kids. He’s disappointed he’s not there yet. If you can help, head over to Northsurreylionsclub.com.