Powassan Lions Club beats back COVID with Do-It-Yourself Pancake Breakfast fundraiser

·5 min read

The Powassan Lions Club isn't allowing COVID-19 to interfere with one of its major fundraising initiatives for a second consecutive year.

Each year around this time the Lions begin holding a Sunday pancake breakfast as a lead-up to Easter.

The club members hold five Sunday breakfasts and they also manage to get in a pancake breakfast during the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival.

Club Secretary Sue Oshell says the Lions could only get one of their Sunday pancake breakfasts in last March, before COVID-19 triggered the province-wide lockdown.

And there's no chance of holding any of the Sunday breakfasts again this year because of COVID-19 restrictions which have also cancelled the annual Powassan Maple Syrup Festival for a second consecutive year.

But the Lions are putting together a Do-It-Yourself Pancake Breakfast kit to overcome the COVID hurdles and still get some of their fundraising in.

Each $30 kit includes a pancake mix, a 250 ml bottle of locally-made maple syrup, 24 breakfast sausages and a 1.75 litre jug of orange juice.

The Lions say the kit can easily feed a family of six people.

Oshell says the maple syrup is from Matthews Maple Syrup of Powassan, Bella Hill Maple Syrup of Nipissing Township and Long's Maple Syrup from Trout Creek.

The kits are available online at powassanlionsclub@live.ca and the public can either reserve a kit or buy it on the spot and pay through e-transfer.

Kits can also be ordered by calling Lions Membership Chair Donna Arkwright at 705-724-5356.

Arkwright, who is also the Lions’ events coordinator, says the idea came from the sister of one of the local club members who belongs to the Auburn Lions Club, northwest of Kitchener.

The Do-It-Yourself breakfast was Auburn's solution to COVID restrictions.

“They did their Do-It-Yourself breakfast for Christmas and sold more than 250 kits,” said Arkwright.

“The Auburn Lions Club sister passed the idea to us because she knew we do the Sunday pancake fundraising breakfasts.”

Arkwright says all orders have to be in by March 28, which is the day the public can pick up their kits from the Lions Den at Glendale Heights from 9 a.m to 1 p.m.

Arkwright is hoping the local club can sell 100 kits, but if early sales are any indication, that target could easily be surpassed.

The Lions posted word of their Do-It-Yourself breakfast on Facebook late Thursday afternoon.

As of Wednesday, a total of 56 Do-It-Yourself Pancake Breakfasts had already sold.

If well more than 100 kits are sold, Arkwright says the Lions will have to create a second pick-up day.

Picking up the extra supplies won't be an issue, including accessing the additional maple syrup.

The three local producers have supplied the campaign with 33 bottles each and are ready to make more 250 ml bottles available if the need arises.

Oshell says the members can put the non-perishable items together as orders come in and pack the perishable items like the sausages and juice on pick-up day.

During pre-COVID life, the Lions Sunday pancake breakfasts generated healthy returns in the fundraising field.

Oshell says in 2019 each Sunday easily saw about 100 people take in the breakfast.

That works out to about 500 breakfasts spread over the five Sundays and Oshell says after expenses, the Lions made about $3,000 for its various fundraising initiatives.

On top of that, about 1,000 people would take in the breakfast during the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival, further generating a profit of about $3,500.

With the Do-It-Yourself Pancake Breakfast, after paying for the food items, the Lions will clear about $10 a kit.

It means the club will have to sell about 300 kits in order to match the total raised from past Sunday breakfasts.

Both Arkwright and Oshell say they would welcome the higher sales but will be just as pleased if they reach the target of 100 kits.

As Oshell monitors the online sales, she's noticed that some people are buying more than one kit.

“I've had people order three and five kits,” he said.

“The person that bought the five kits then donated them to our local food bank.

Because of the way the program is set up, Oshell says she doesn't know where the sales are coming from unless she personally knows an individual's name.

Such was the case with North Bay city councillor Tanya Vrebosch, who bought a Do-It-Yourself kit.

The Nugget reached out to Vrebosch who said she's challenging municipal politicians to buy a kit for themselves or to donate it.

North Bay’s deputy mayor adds she's going to buy a second Do-It-Yourself kit which she plans to donate.

The Powassan Lions Club is involved in helping many groups with its fundraising initiatives.

Oshell says years ago it was the Lions who built the outdoor pool in Powassan and she adds that the pool is now in need of repairs “so we hope to be able to help them out”.

The local club also committed $25,000 to the North Bay Regional Health Centre's Cancer Care Close to Home campaign and has been making $5,000 a year instalments.

Other local and area beneficiaries from the Powassan Lions Club have been minor hockey, figure skating as well as the scouts and guides.

The Lions are also involved with the CNIB and Oshell says the club also helps build ramps to people's homes to make mobility easier for individuals.

She adds one fundraiser the club hopes to get back to soon is building Lions Chairs, similar to Muskoka Chairs.

Normally the club can build 40 chairs a year, but COVID put a crimp in that last year and so far again this year.

Although March 28 has been set aside as pick-up day for the kits, Oshell says the Lions can deliver kits if a buyer can't get to the Lions Den, but that option only applies to in-town deliveries.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget