When Carl Mattson accepted the Wolcott Lions Club Charter from District Governor J. Sidney Wakely on June 26, 1952, so began an organization, which has truly served the needs of this community, the district and Lions International. Upon receiving the gong and gavel from Waterbury Lions Club president, Joe McNellis, Carl became the Wolcott Club's first President. From this night on, the new organization comprised of Wolcott's own would be a source of pride for the town as a group dedicated to serving their community.
For over fifty years, the Wolcott Lions have contributed to the health and welfare of all within reach. In the first three years of operation, major fund drives were conducted for cancer, March of Dimes and flood relief for the Great Waterbury Flood. As an active member of Lions international, the Wolcott Lions Club has supported many research programs for such afflictions as blindness, diabetes, cancer and birth defects. As a perennial "100 Per Cent Club," Wolcott is recognized for its considerable contributions to six key Lions International programs. The Wolcott Lions are extremely proud that two of its members have held the office of District Govenor for District 23A. Lion John Gagain, held this post during the 2004/2005 Lion year and Lion Walter Sherman currently holds this post during the 2010/2011 Lion year.
Education is an area of great interest for the Wolcott Lions Club. Over the years the Wolcott Lions supported the educational system in many ways. Through the Wolcott Lions Book Fund of the 1950's, many books were purchased for local school libraries. In the 1960's and 1970's, the Wolcott Lions sponsored an Oratorical Contest to challenge and reward high school students. More recently, the club sponsored local teachers to attend the Quest Program that aids teachers in understanding and helping teenage students. In support of student well being, funds and/or man-power is provided for CASA (Citizens Against Substance Abuse), the post-prom party which follows the annual High School Junior Prom, and the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Halloween Dance for Middle School students which gives kids a safe, supervised place to go where they can't get into mischief. The Wolcott Lions are also proud to provide five (5) $1500 scholarships annually.
On a local level, the Wolcott Lions have a history of sponsoring medical services from the purchase of polio vaccine serum in 1957 to a flu shot clinic for senior citizens more recently. Equipment such as wheel chairs and eye testing equipment have been provided to local schools. Over the years, the Wolcott Lions have donated emergency equipment to the Wolcott Police and the Volunteer Ambulance culminating with significant funding for the new Ambulance Headquarters dedicated on June 9, 1991. The Wolcott Lions host five blood drives each year for the American Red Cross (AMC) and have been the recipients of the "AMC Lions Cup" award each year since its inception for the Lions Club in Connecticut that has delivered the most pints of blood. And as always, the Wolcott Lions stand ready to provide eye care and other assistance to the needy.
Additionally, the Wolcott Lions proudly support numerous community activities, which help us all grow. As co-sponsors of the Wolcott Special Games we watch Wolcott residents demonstrate what can be accomplished working together. From early involvement in scouting for girls and boys to ongoing contributions to local organized sports for youngsters, the Wolcott Lions help lay the groundwork for maintaining that Wolcott spirit. The list is endless and includes funding of a Girl Scout camp, the purchase of uniforms for high school teams and donation of the scoreboard on Wolcott High's football field.
Every year, the Wolcott Lions host a number of popular events for the people in town. In early summer, the Wolcott Lions sponsor an event called "Project Elderly". Members of the Wolcott Lions Club turn out in large numbers to put on a picnic lunch/barbeque for the senior citizens in town complete with a fun-filled game of bingo in the afternoon. In late summer, the Wolcott Lions provide our town with a time and place to celebrate as one big family at the Wolcott Country Fair. Begun in 1979, the Wolcott Country Fair became the club's major fundraiser replacing almost 30 years of light bulb sales. Now 30+ years later, the Wolcott Country Fair brings over 30,000 people to the beautiful town of Wolcott over the course of the annual 3-day event. The Wolcott Country Fair has achieved "major fair" status - the highest classification given by the Association of Connecticut Fairs. This means our attendees will be treated to an excellent and educational time. The Wolcott Lions purchased a 20+ acre wooded parcel of land with a large pond. With well over twice the size of the current fairgrounds, we are working to build a bigger, more beautiful fair. In the fall, the annual Wolcott Lions Pancake Breakfast is well received by townspeople with proceeds going towards our annual scholarships. An event called the "Winter Wonderland" was started in 2002 with a single goal in mind - to give back to the community that supports us by attending our events all year long. The Winter Wonderland is held on our new fairgrounds and features a horse-drawn wagon or (weather-permitting) sleigh ride, seasonal music, hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee, hot dogs, Christmas cookies and a special visit by Santa Claus. While this event is totally free to the community, we do ask for new unwrapped toys or a non-perishable food item. These are then distributed by the Wolcott Lions within our community the following weekend as part of the "Toys for Tots" and "Food for the Needy" programs.
While there are plenty of annual events to keep the Wolcott Lions busy, they also come together in time of need. People in town can count on the Lions hosting a ziti-supper fund-raiser if a fire puts a family out of their home or if an illness strikes.
As Lions, we cannot help but feel the joy from helping others. Yes, we serve! And we would not have it any other way. The 100+ members of Wolcott Lions Club are extremely fortunate to be part of a community that cares and works together as much as this one. We are blessed not only with the means to do good deeds but the reward of seeing Wolcott prosper by them.