Lions and Leos form a meal assembly line in the Cullman Middle School lunchroom for Saturday’s annual Fish and Ham Dinner. / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – Saturday was a beautiful day for a fish fry, and that’s exactly what went down at Cullman Middle School. The Cullman Lions Club, with plenty of help from the Cullman Lioness Club and local high school Leo clubs, fired up the fryers for the Lions’ annual Fish and Ham Dinner. The menu included a choice of Mississippi farm-raised catfish or ham, hush puppies made fresh onsite, baked potatoes, fresh-made coleslaw, drinks and desserts. It was a good day for folks to get out, and that they did; by noon, more than 350 patrons had already purchased meals, and both dine-in and drive-through lines were still growing.
More than 100 Lion, Lioness and Leo volunteers expected to sell between 1,600 and 1,700 plates through the course of the day. Though specific numbers were not available, the Lions expected to clear $12,000 or more after expenses. That money will go to support multiple projects in the Cullman area.
Outside by the fish and hushpuppy fryers, Cullman Lions Club Vice President Andrew Manning, one of Cullman’s youngest Lions, shared, “It’s just a great opportunity to serve the public, the people of Cullman, and to give back. I’ve been a lifelong citizen of the city, and it’s been a great opportunity to give back and help folks in the community. And the Fish and Ham Dinner’s just part of what we do to help give back. It’s a good fundraiser for us and creates an opportunity for us to give that back into the community.”
Cullman Lions Membership Committee Chair Frank Odell added, “These profits are used for community betterment. The Lions Club does a lot of things within the community and outside the community, but this money is just earmarked for local projects.”
The local charities, programs and other entities supported by the Cullman Lions include, among others:
- Cullman Caring for Kids United Way Food Bank
- Good Samaritan Health Clinic
- Grace Episcopal Church’s Grace Place
- Stiefelmeyer Park
- Field of Miracles
- Cullman Regional Foundation and renovations of Cullman Regional waiting rooms
- Hope Horses, Inc.
- Glasses and eye exams for low income families
- Sponsoring diabetic kids to go to Camp Seale Harris
- Sponsoring high school students to go to Troy University’s youth leadership conference
The popularity of the Fish and Ham Dinner, especially in an election year, could be measured by the number of local leaders who came out for handshakes and hugs. By lunchtime, County Commissioners Garry Marchman and Kerry Watson, Sheriff Matt Gentry, Judge Martha Williams, former representative and current gubernatorial candidate James Fields and Alabama House of Representatives candidate Alex Chaney had all dropped by for a hot meal and a little campaigning.
Odell concluded, “We’re one of the largest Lions Clubs in the state. We have quite a good heritage and background: a lot of good community leaders. I think one of the secrets of Lions Club and the Lioness Club is that we really work together well. This is a great fundraising project, but it’s also a time for us to bond and work together in one building as a group. We have a lot of different teams, and it always flows really, really well, so it’s a good function for us. And then the people that come into the dining room, it’s a little hospitality; so, we’re kind of celebrating our Lions Club with the community.
“Our motto is ‘We Serve,’ so we’re very much project-oriented and team-oriented, and just trying to make a better community.”
For more information on the Cullman Lions Club, visit www.cullmanlions.com.
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