Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dane Degerstrom-Hanley
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Willow River to celebrate

Lions Club honored as grand marshals


Dane Degerstrom-Hanley

The 2017 Sturgeon Lake Lions Club members include, front, Deb Birkholm, Mark Uzenski, Sarah Sedlander and Rick Borchardt. Back: Andy Dahl, anonymous, Brian Birkholm, Gordy Jacobson, Bob Hoppe and Matt Weigand. Not pictured are Spencer Stone, Ron Goetzinger, Darel Morrisey, Terry Johnson, Janet Behrman, Joe Jirovec, Russ Dahl, Joe Burbuhl Jr., Carrie Conner, Bob Indihar, Jim Kaffer, Mike Kosloski, Rob Rose and Paul Troskey.


JULY 21, 22 & 23


or search for Willow River Area Days Celebration on Facebook.

Buttons are $2 each and available at local businesses (button required to attend Friday's pageant).

Nearly 100 years ago in 1925, Lions Club founder Melvin Jones was challenged by Helen Keller to help and aid the blind. To this day, the Lions have not strayed at all from Keller's challenge. For the Sturgeon Lake Lions Club, helping those with vision impairment and blindness has been one of their core missions along with providing medical equipment for those in need and sponsoring guide dogs for the blind, since its founding back in 1977.

The club has made huge contributions to the surrounding communities and has helped sponsor a multitude of service projects. In the last year alone, the club gave away more than $50,000 in donations and scholarships to the community.

This year, they helped sponsor two K9 dog units for the Pine County Sheriff's Department, donated vision screening equipment to the Willow River High School and helped finance a guide dog for a blind student. At a meeting on Wednesday, July 5, the club passed three motions to donate to the Sturgeon Lake parks committee to help them acquire land space, to the Willow River Backpack Program for the food shelf, and to Bryan Sheehan to help his campaign for International Vice President of the Lions Club.

"The best thing that I've been involved with personally," says Brian Birkholm, "was the flood crew for Moose Lake and Rutledge." The club helped with relief efforts for families affected by the water damage from flooding in 2012. They helped by financing supplies for the families who lost their homes from the flooding. "We set up at Walmart in Pine City, and we allowed each person in the familiy to spend $150-200 and said we'll pay for it." He says, "They just couldn't believe it. It was such a good feeling."

The club also hosts several annual events such as Memorial and Labor Day pancake breakfast fundraisers, sunfish fishing contest and fruit basket project. Three times a year, the club cleans up trash along a two-mile segment of Interstate 35 from the Sturgeon Lake exit ramp to two miles south.

The fruit basket project, held around Christmas time, involves packing and delivering between 500 to 600 bags of fruit to homes in Rutledge, Willow River, Sturgeon Lake and other areas. Leftover fruit is then delivered to the senior citizen apartments in Moose Lake.

The club has also won several awards for efforts and contributions toward helping blindness and guide dogs. They received an award from the Leader Dogs for the Blind organization and the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank organization.

The club is also celebrating its 40th anniversary. They will be hosting a dinner in October with other Lions Clubs in attendance.

The Sturgeon Lake Lions Club has highlighted a need for new members. The club offers volunteering opportunities for members by contributing to the local communities and a way for students to bolster résumés by volunteering and gain both leadership experience and experience with international volunteering organizations. As well, the club offers a way for people to connect with other members of the community.

However, club members need to be self-motivated and active people. "You get out what you put into it," says Club President Mark Uzenski. "You have to want to give back to the community." Uzenski mentions how the success of the club is driven by the motivation of its members.

The age requirement to join the Lion's Club is 18, but there is a Leo's Club available for students and anyone under the age of 18. To join, simply attend one of the monthly meetings held at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month. For the Sturgeon Lake Lions Club, meetings are held at the Sturgeon Lake City Hall.

The club's Facebook page features updates on club activities and upcoming events and can be found at Sturgeon Lake Lions Club.

For more information on the Lions Club Organization, visit their website at and discover more about what they do and where they work.


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