West London Lions Club Raise Funds to Support Orbis

In 2021, with many of the in-person fundraisers Lions Clubs typically manage on hold due to the pandemic, the West London Lions Club found a creative way to support the work of Orbis Canada.

The group, which is made up primarily of students and alumni from Western University, had run many successful fundraisers and events prior to the pandemic, including collecting donations for the London Food Bank during the Santa Claus Parade, planting trees, baking for those staying at Ronald McDonald House, and developing the first Canadian Young Lions retreat. During COVID-19, they wanted to continue to support charitable projects, even if they could not host in-person events.

Members of the West London Lions Club (prior to COVID-19)

The suggestion to fundraise for Orbis Canada came from member Nikhil Patil, who is a medical student at Hamilton’s McMaster University and the co-chair of the university’s ophthalmology student interest group. Patil was interested in the work Orbis does to support global eye health, which fit one of the five tenants of the Lions Club’s mission – helping those experiencing blindness.

Nikhil Patil

Member, West London Lions Club

I thought it would be good for our club to take a lead on a fundrais­er and see how we could make an impact in a year where things were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. With COVID, there are a lot of neg­a­tives for many large clubs in terms of the dif­fi­cul­ties tran­si­tion­ing online. But at the same time, there were some sav­ings from a finan­cial per­spec­tive for a lot of clubs since the logis­tics are a lot cheap­er in a pre­dom­i­nant­ly online platform.

This opened a potential opportunity to use those savings to support meaningful causes.

The group decided to reach out to Lions Clubs across Canada, as well as to individual members, sharing information about Orbis and the work being done to save sight globally. They recognized each donation on their website and held a virtual celebration for all those who supported the project when the fundraiser ended.

In the end, the group raised more than $3,200, far surpassing their initial goal of $2,500.

The West London Lions Club is a newly formed group, started by Kyle Boutilier and his peers in 2018 with a focus on getting younger Canadians involved with Lions Clubs of Canada. “We haven’t really done much work in the vision space yet, and Lions have traditionally done lots of work in that area, so we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to contribute to one of the Lions main cause areas,” he says.

The group was thrilled with the response they saw from other Lions Clubs when they reached out.

Being a club with younger members, they found that their familiarity with digital options helped them pivot to online fundraising a little more quickly. Their treasurer, Justin Lin, was keen to help other clubs adjust to Zoom options, including using features like breakout rooms. He, alongside other members of the West London Lions Club, hosted a workshop on how to facilitate virtual meetings, which was appreciated by the clubs with less experience in technology.

Justin Lin

Treasurer, West London Lions Club

A lot of oth­er clubs reached out to us, as we are prob­a­bly the youngest club in all of Cana­da. They were hav­ing trou­ble learn­ing how to use Zoom. We put togeth­er a tuto­r­i­al where we cre­at­ed a video for them to learn from, and we also held a vir­tu­al work­shop where many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent clubs could join to learn more about how to use Zoom and its asso­ci­at­ed fea­tures. We taught them how to do the basics so that they could con­tin­ue to run their club, as well as con­tin­ue to reach out to oth­er peo­ple with­in the club and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions to keep going in this time.

The group hopes their work for Orbis and other non-profit projects will be a good example of how young people can get involved and make a difference in their communities. “I think you'd be very surprised at how many young individuals are very motivated to feel responsible and then want to take action on various events and service projects. I think Lions does a really good job at giving people that opportunity in a way that doesn't put pressure on them, but brings them in when they're willing to do it. And I think it's a great way to meet new friends, as well,” says Lin.

For information about how your group or organization can support Orbis Canada, contact Emily Harper.

Phone number: 416.413.7925 ext. 14

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