There’s very little left in this town, which the Oakdale Lions Club hasn’t touched or impacted.
From the flags which line the streets on national holidays, to pancakes served for varying functions or the keeping of the time at the clock tower at the main intersection of town – one can simply thank a Lion.
With a membership just north of 50 members the Oakdale service club is once again proving it won’t shy away from a challenge or taking on a new project … or two. Come this November, the Oakdale Lions will be the driving force behind the Spirit of Oakdale Community Thanksgiving Dinner. They will also continue the tradition of the Children’s Shopping Tour this December and have now joined forces with the board of the Support Oakdale Schools (SOS) Fun Run.
“We learn to adapt,” Oakdale Lion Greg Rivera and longtime Children’s Shopping Tour Chairman said. “You expect everything but be ready for a curve ball and … we do. That’s the Lions Club.”
Faced with the closing of Kmart this December, Rivera shared the Shopping Tour brass quickly jumped to work on securing a new location for the annual event. They were pleasantly surprised when they quickly received response from Kohl’s, Riverbank with an ‘all in’ response. The annual event, hosted Dec. 18 will begin with shopping for the children at Kohl’s, followed by a Santa visit and pizza at Sierra View Elementary School.
“Nothing can do what Kmart did, locally,” Rivera shared. “Kohl’s was on board immediately.”
According to Rivera approximately 225 children are treated each year to the night of shopping thanks to volunteers and funds raised due to the generosity of the community.
“If going to Kohl’s means an extra 45 minutes, big deal, we’re helping out the kids,” Rivera said of the end goal. “I’m sad that Kmart is going to be closing. I wish it was happening in March instead of December but it is what it is.”
But before the club gets to Christmas, it must first focus on Thanksgiving. Oakdale Lion Brian Lemons has been the key player in accepting the task and partnering with former Spirit of Oakdale organizers Vickie Thompson and Roper McClean.
“My part of it, is just the transition,” Lemons shared. “I would like the community to understand that the community dinner is going to happen again, many of the same folks are involved. The Lions Club is simply taking over and transitioning into a leadership role to continue the dinner.”
Now entering its 26th year, the Spirit of Oakdale dinner will be hosted Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. Dinners will be served to the community between the hours of 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Just as has been customary in the past, the Lions will rely on donations of cooked turkeys, volunteer help as well as monetary donations to serve the members of the community.
“It’s basically going to be cookie cutter of what they’ve done in years past. It’s just that some of the guys from the Lions Club are basically organizing it,” Lemons said.
“The message we’re trying to get out, is if you participated in the past we’d love your help going forward,” he continued.
As has been customary in past years, the participation piece of aiding with turkey prep, donation or getting one’s hands dirty serving and cleaning the day of, are all equally important.
“It’s beautiful. I think it’s awesome,” Rivera said of the two holiday events, “because that’s a whole community event. I mean we spearhead it but the whole community gets involved. That’s what makes Oakdale unique.”
One other unique event to the Oakdale Lions Club is the annual Don Osborne Memorial Run. Now in its 28th year, the event will be hosted Feb. 1, 2020. Perhaps it’s the club status of the only service club to host a run or its longtime commitment of help with the Support Oakdale Schools Fun Run, earlier this year, the club adopted the annual SOS event as it enters its 11th year.
“I think the run got taken over, because it was like again ... who was going to take it over,” Don Osborne Chairman Alan Graham shared. “I think it’s good because we have enough committee people to take care of most of it. It’s big, it’s twice as big as our run.”
The Oakdale SOS Fun Run will be hosted on Saturday, March 14. Formerly supported by the Oakdale Education Foundation, the new partnership will continue to benefit Oakdale youth as well as the community thanks to the partnership of the Oakdale Lions Club.
“My dad was in the Lions. It’s affordable to be in the Lions and we get our hands dirty,” Rivera said of how he came to join the service club. “God bless the guys that write the checks, but we get down and do it.”
With such a wide variety of events, commitments and partnerships with the Lions, Rivera added it’s important for the community to understand the big picture.
“They’re giving money to the community,” Rivera said of all donations. “That’s the beauty of Oakdale. The community gets involved.”
Community members interested in helping with any of the upcoming events may do so by contacting the following people for the following events: Spirit of Oakdale: Brian Lemons (209) 404-9511 or Vickie Thompson (209) 606-3893; Oakdale Lions Children’s Shopping Tour: Greg Rivera (209) 847-3252 and SOS Fun Run: Alan Graham (209) 602-8821.