Lions celebrate Earth Day

The Lions Club of Pago Pago celebrated Earth Day 2017 by doing what they do best—working together to improve the world in which they live.

They were joined by family, friends and new Lion members on Saturday, April 22 for an event which had them working hard to clean up the shoreline at the Pala Lagoon in Lions Park.

The year 2017 is a banner year for Lions Club International — it marks 100 years since the worldwide organization began. The current Lions International President, Robert E. Corlew, presides over the largest service club organization in the world, with close to 1.4 million members organized into 46,000 clubs in over 200 countries and territories around the globe.

In preparation for this hallmark year, an initiative was launched at the association’s 97th annual International Convention held in Toronto in 2014. Then International President Joe Preston announced a global initiative to serve 100 million people by 2017. Called the Centennial Service Challenge, it was billed as a “humanitarian initiative that brings Lions clubs around the world together in service.”  Several Global Service Action Campaigns were outlined, including those, which would support youth activities (such as Special Olympics) vision and eye care programs, hunger initiatives, and environmental projects around the world.

The challenge for this special year involves ‘Protecting our Environment’, so the Lions Club of Pago Pago dedicated last Saturday to cleaning along the shoreline and other areas of the park, which bears their name. Armed with sunscreen, hats, plenty of mosquito repellant, rubber gloves, jumbo trash bags, and their characteristic high spirits, they moved along the park and the shoreline from just across the territory’s prison to the children’s park area, cleaning and beautifying as they went along.

According to Lion President Chris King, the clean up was supported by ASEPA — who not only supplied additional trash bags and gloves, but also had two of their staffers join the cleanup. 

King reported that they collected “a lot of trash — most of which was probably marine debris which had washed up on shore.”

He said, “It was a great turnout. We had over 35 people join us, along with 15 Lions members.  Lion Ponita Lausen brought her Leone High School JV Boys Soccer team, Lion Ty brought his youth group from his church, and Lion Andrew Berquist’s parents also joined the effort.”

“In all over 100 lbs of debris was removed from the area, including another 100 lbs of objects which couldn't be bagged.  Overall, there were about 37 full trash bags, with everything from small plastic bottle caps, cans, bottles, and styrofoam. The oddest (and nastiest) item collected had to be the baby-diapers!”

King noted, “The one thing we concentrated on were the small plastic items that always tend to get missed — which ends up being ingested by the marine life. Did you know that plastic doesn't really go away? It just breaks down to small bits of sand-like grain. AS EPA has a great video of the effects of marine debris and plastics on marine life.”

The Lion President encourages the Lions to be mindful of the beautiful island, which is our home, and to take care of it. After all, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

It was a timely cleanup for the island as well.

Several aiga buses loaded with tourists from the two cruise ships visiting American Samoa that day stopped by Lions Park as part of their island tour. King told Samoa News, “I’m glad they were able to experience the real beauty of Lions Park and Pala Lagoon without the nasty trash all over the shoreline.” 

Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day wrote, “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is…. these biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”

The Lions Club — who will always work as hard as they play — followed their cleanup with a delicious potluck and BBQ. You can learn more about the Lions by visiting www.lions.org, or contacting one of the local members.

Malo lava, Lions!

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