The Helping Hands of White Bear Lake Service Clubs

Local service clubs stay busy giving back to the communities they serve.

Communities are made better when civic-minded people come together in support of shared values. Service clubs like the Wildwood Lions Club, White Bear Lake Lions Club and the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake provide an avenue for those who value good citizenship and charitable service. The efforts of these clubs benefit people in our neighborhoods and sometimes reach around the globe. Plus, belonging to a service club is socially engaging and fun; membership provides an opportunity to make friends, develop skills and raise money for worthy causes. Check out what these three local service clubs are doing in and around the White Bear Lake area.

Wildwood Lions Club
Founded in 1956, the Wildwood Lions Club is based in Mahtomedi. This group of about 60 members meets for dinner twice a month at Jethro’s Char-House & Pub to brainstorm charitable efforts and hear inspirational speakers. Kyle Anderson is the group’s president and has been a Lions Club member for 14 years. “Our club is flexible,” says Anderson. who initially joined the Wildwood Lions at a minimal club membership level. “I really liked what I saw and became a full-fledged member.”
Some of what Anderson saw is the Wildwood Lions support for the local food shelf, local schools, scouting, help for the disabled and funding for equipment for the Mahtomedi Fire Department. The club raises money to support these causes through regular fundraising efforts. Their largest fundraising efforts include an annual Sportsman’s Dinner in March and PunkinMania in October.
The Sportsman’s Dinner is named for the delicious wild game dinner served at Lake Elmo Inn; games and prizes add to the festive atmosphere. This popular ticketed event regularly sells out.
Later in the season, Wildwood Lions Club members plant, raise and harvest pumpkins to sell at PunkinMania on the second Saturday in October. Generous Grant Township landowners donate field space for growing pumpkins. “We sell large carving pumpkins and smaller painted pumpkins that are gorgeous and make really nice table decorations,” Anderson says.    
PunkinMania also offers inflatable bouncy houses, a petting zoo, a bake sale and pizza by the slice donated by Wildwood Pizza. “The community is very supportive,” says Anderson. “People appreciate that 100 percent of the money we raise goes back into our community.”
Recently, the Wildwood Lions Club hired an individual to manage charitable gambling at local bars. “With our regular fundraisers, we raise close to $18,000 per year,” says Anderson, who adds, “I love the camaraderie of club membership. But I mostly love seeing how much good we’re doing for the community.”


New members welcome: Yes
Meetings: 6:30 p.m., one or two Monday evenings per month at Jethro’s Char-House & Pub
Club information:

White Bear Lake Lions Club
For 68 years, the White Bear Lake Lions Club has been serving the local community as part of the global Lions Club organization, which boasts more than 1.4 million members worldwide. Mike Machus has been a member of the White Bear Lake Lions Club since 1980; his father was a member before him. “This is a good group of people who understand and appreciate the value of doing good for the community,” says Machus.
The White Bear Lake Lions Club launched an annual Lions Club Show in 1946. It’s a homegrown musical comedy that has stood the test of time and  still one of the club’s notable fundraisers. “We write our own shows, find professional directors and choreographers, and incorporate local musicians each year,” Machus says. Rehearsals begin in January for the annual March performances at Central Middle School. The production is made up mostly of club members and their friends and families. But, Machus notes, “if somebody wants to be in the show, we’ll find a spot for them.”
The Lions Club Show may be this group’s longest running fundraiser, but the Bear Water Run, a 10- and 20-mile running event around White Bear Lake in September, is the group’s highest-grossing fundraiser. “Close to 1,000 runners come out for the Bear Water Run,” says Machus. “Many use this event as training to gear up for the Twin Cities Marathon.”
The club also hosts smaller fundraisers throughout the year, and administers charitable gambling at three local establishments, Beartown Lounge, 617 Lounge and Don’s Little Bar. Machus says their club typically raises around $100,000 per year for charitable causes.
Proceeds support local schools, Lion-mobile transportation for seniors and disabled persons to get to doctor appointments or grocery shopping, police and firefighter equipment, eyeglass donations, food shelf programs and the senior health program through the White Bear Lake Senior Center.

“We have a process for reviewing requests for funds,” says Machus. “We do as much as we can to keep the money local. But we also support worldwide disaster relief and things like leader dogs and diabetes research.”

New members welcome: Yes
Meetings: 6 p.m., second and fourth Thursdays from September through May at the Stadium Village Inn
Club information:

Rotary Club of White Bear Lake

The primary objective of Rotary International is service in the community, workplace and around the world. The Rotary Club of White Bear Lake chartered in 1979, with a particular focus on helping people live better lives through local and global efforts.
Club president Darrell Stone has been a member of the Rotary Club of White Bear Lake since 2008. “Being a member is a good way to make business contacts,” says Stone. “But it’s really the fun and fellowship that keeps me coming back. I love the feeling I get while working on a service project with friends.”
The group raises funds for its service projects through a variety of events; the biggest is the annual Taste of White Bear Lake in September. “This event used to be for members only,” Stone says. “But we’ve opened it up to the community and sell tickets to the event hosted at an outdoor venue at a Dellwood apple orchard.” Admission includes food tasting from 22 local restaurants, beer and wine tasting, a silent auction and live music; this year’s event brought in approximately 550 guests.
Along with other fundraisers, the White Bear Lake Rotary Club raises around $28,000 annually. Proceeds benefit the local food shelf, building projects and scholarships. A few years ago, the club committed to improving the boulevard along Clark Avenue and added a monument inscribed with the club’s guiding principles. Recently, they contributed to the Eagle’s Turf project—a golf program for returning veterans—and Healing Haiti, a sustainable aquaponics farming project to feed the needy in Haiti. Local humanitarians inspire both of these charitable programs.


New members welcome: Yes
Meetings: 7 a.m., every Wednesday at Rudy’s Redeye Grill
Club information: