February 29, 2024

Savannah-Crestview Lions Club use new kitchen to raise funds for village fire company

SAVANNAH — Food insecurity is likely the last topic on the minds of guests partaking in Saturday’s pancake breakfast. 

But for Kevin Reidy, a longtime Lions Club member, the breakfast at Savannah’s Town Hall symbolized a circling back to the local club’s first-ever project in the mid-1940s. 

“They put together food baskets using food from Henry’s Grocery Store,” he said, between greeting familiar faces. 

Saturday’s pancake breakfast — held from 6:30 to 11 a.m. — marked the first since completing a months-long kitchen renovation project, which was part of a larger overall project to bring new lighting and doors to the building.

These photos show the before and after of the newly renovated kitchen at Savannah Town Hall. Credit: Photos submitted by Kevin Reidy

A $60,029 Foundation Hunger Grant from the Lions Clubs International and more than $13,000 in local funding helped transform the 1940s-era kitchen.

On Saturday, Lions and other volunteers busied around the brand new kitchen, which is now furnished with stainless steel appurtenances such as a prep table, oven, commercial sink and warming station. 

Community members — some from as far as Shelby — meandered through the long line to receive pancakes, French toast, sausages, biscuits and gravy before finding a seat in the adjoining cafeteria. 

Reidy, clad in his Lions’ red hat and gray service shirt, sat at a folding table as guests streamed into town hall. 

He counted each guest using tally marks and a pencil. By 8:42 a.m., he’d counted 125 people. A longtime Lion and resident of Clear Creek Township, he knew most of them. 

“Hi Beth. Hi Judy,” Reidy said with a cheerful lilt. If he didn’t recognize them, it didn’t matter. “Morning, folks. How are you all today?”

Reidy would then move into instructions. “Just your name and phone on here, and you could win a Hawkins gift card,” he explained, pointing to a small blue slip.

Kevin Reidy, a longtime Lions Club member, walks around Savannah Town Hall’s dining hall on Saturday, Feb. 3 to help things run smoothly. Credit: Dillon Carr

Next to the metallic lottery drum sat a Folgers pail labeled “Donations please.” 

All proceeds from the pancake breakfast on Saturday went to the Savannah Volunteer Fire Company, an outfit first established in 1882 with a station down on Haney Street. 

Brent Kash, a 25-year Savannah VFC firefighter, had been at town hall since 6 a.m.

Kash, along with around 10 others from the station, served as the Lions’ helping hands.

“Just helping serve, some are in the kitchen, cleaning up syrup — just helping out how we can,” he said.  

It’s the least he can do, he said. “They’ve always been helpful,” Kash said of the Savannah-Crestview Lions Club.

The Savannah-Crestview Lions Club hosts monthly breakfasts from September to April — every first Saturday. Each breakfast features a different benefactor, said Marj Pond, the club’s first vice president.

Starting in March, however, the club plans to host monthly “hunger events.” 

The idea is aimed at addressing food insecurity in the area, Reidy said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity in a couple different ways.

Low food security is a “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet” and “little or no indication of reduced food intake.” Very low food security is seen as “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”

“We have a Dollar General, but that’s the closest ‘food’ place in the village,” Reidy said, adding he hopes town hall’s new kitchen will serve as a hub for fulfilling one of the club’s lasting traditions of providing access to food.

‘A good time’

But for most, the weekly breakfasts during the cold, gray months provide more than mere fuel. 

“We’ve been coming here for many years,” said Bruno Miguel de Leon, an Ashland resident with Sicilian Filipino heritage. He wore a U.S. Army Veteran hat. “It’s the first Saturday of the month — it’s a good time to see friends and neighbors.” 

Judy Coy agreed. She sat across the table from Miguel de Leon and his wife, Jan. 

“I walked here. I live just down the street,” Coy said, pointing. She said she and her husband bought his grandparents house when he got out of the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s. 

“Now we come and argue who’s better — the Army or the Air Force,” she said, laughing. 

By 9:19 a.m., Pond announced they had run out of sausages and biscuits. They had bought 65 pounds of meat and she must have bought too little of the biscuits, she thought aloud. 

Fortunately, the 50 pounds pancake mix hadn’t yet run out.

That prompted Pond’s husband, a Lion, to point out the pancake breakfast held to fundraise for the fire company is usually a busy one.

“But it’s busier than we thought today,” he said, thumbing bills from donation proceeds. When asked how much had been collected, he said he didn’t know. “I usually keep a running total in my head, but we’ve been too busy today.” 

Reidy didn’t have a total raised by Monday morning, but reported serving 216 meals and running out of food before the breakfast ended at 11 a.m.

He said Saturday’s breakfast was the best attendance since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

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