Valley really is grand in offering a place for a carnival of giving

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

On Saturday, Feb. 17 for the 89th year, the Grand Junction Lions Club will hold its parade, carnival and raffle to raise money for deserving nonprofits in Mesa County. The theme this year is “Life is good.” When I look back at my 17 years living here in Grand Junction, the majority of those as a Grand Junction Lion, I’d say that’s hard to argue. While that’s not referring to my life personally, it certainly applies to the heart of giving where we live and do business.

In writing about the Grand Junction Lions in particular, it should be noted this group has raised and donated a total of nearly $6 million to more than 500
non-profit organizations and projects over those 89 years. And the Grand Junction Lions Club continues to do all of these good works while having perhaps a little too much fun dressing up and along its parade route from and back to Two Rivers Convention Center. But that’s not the point. Or maybe it is.

If you really want to know just how much a small number of people can affect giving and caring in an area of nearly 150,000 people, join the Grand Junction Lions Club and try to find someone a Lion hasn’t already solicited to buy raffle tickets. It is almost impossible. And folks, all of that is accomplished by a group whose numbers total around 125 dedicated men and women.

Think about that, this year’s Grand Junction Lions Club will fund a total of $136,000 in grants to nonprofit projects and organizations in Mesa County including: Grand Mesa Little League, Grand Junction Fire Soccer, John McConnell Math & Science, Mesa County Partners, Glade Park Volunteer Fire Department, Grand Junction High School Band, Outdoor Wilderness Lab (Bookcliff Middle School), Lincoln Orchard Mesa Elementary, East Middle School, Orchard Mesa Middle School Thunder Mountain Elementary, Rim Rock Elementary, Scenic Elementary, Mesa County School District 51 Career Center and Los Colonias Park.

Money raised by the Grand Junction Lions carnival and raffle stays in Mesa County. But most important, the Grand Junction Lions Club can do none of this without the incredible support of the citizens and businesses in Mesa County. SOMEONE has to buy all those raffle tickets. And to each and every business and person who took $10 to $250 out of their hard-earned dollars to support our raffle, thank you very much. To every business that donated prizes for the raffle or to one of the many booths, my heartfelt thanks as well.

That last point goes straight to the literal “heart” of Grand Valley giving and the Grand Junction Lions Club carnival and parade. You see, there’s a reason why the carnival happens the first Saturday after Valentine’s Day every year. That’s because many of the original prizes at the early carnivals were flowers donated by local florists left over from Valentine’s Day. For those of us lucky enough to live and do business in the Grand Valley today, the heart of this community in terms of charity continues to grow and grow. While the Grand Junction Lions month-long event constitutes the largest single fund-raiser, it’s simply one example of the true heart of this community.

As many of my readers know, we’re at the beginning of the fund-raising event season in the Grand Valley. Maybe that term doesn’t apply much anymore, because my experience says giving is a year-around endeavor here. Some might view that as a bad thing because it can become overwhelming. I say it’s a great opportunity to get involved with the charity of your choice. There are numerous ways to skip a coffee, dinner or dessert out and give to a cause you support. Maybe it isn’t the Grand Junction Lions Club because we’ve basically bugged everyone in town hundreds of times over the years. That’s OK, we’ll still ask next year. And we’ll still dress silly, have fun and raise funds (and something else) during our event. So you aren’t off the hook. But I guarantee one thing, there HAS to be a cause in the Grand Valley that matches your heart and deserves your time, talent or a few bucks.

Over the past year alone, the Business Times has signed up to help CASA, Edesia, Hope West, Community Hospital (and Foundation), St. Mary’s Hospital (and Foundation), Family Health West (and Foundation), Marillac Health, CMU Veterans, Western Colorado Suicide Prevention, Kiwanis Club, Rotary, Girl Scouts, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Grand Junction Lions, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Strive and the Express All Stars ‚ reminding me I’ve also donated to many individual causes that friends and their kids work and serve to raise funds. All because people ask or one of these groups has touched my life.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m saying this in the hope it will spur you to get involved through your donations or time with one of the great opportunities of giving that living in the Grand Valley puts in front of us every day.

I’m really saying this for the smallest of reasons. Because no matter how great or how little you give, giving comes back exponentially. May your efforts multiply your success and happiness.