The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous organizations to struggle for funding, but by overcoming some obstacles, the Broadway Lions Club was able to donate $6,000 to John C. Myers Elementary School for its Camp Jigsaw program.
The donation was officially presented during the club’s Oct. 13 meeting, but the elementary school received the funding prior to the camp’s start in July. The presentation was delayed due to scheduling challenges, according to John Knepper.
Knepper, a member of the Broadway Lions Club, said the club was able to gather enough donations to give to Camp Jigsaw despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has “paralyzed” nonprofits.
“Despite the challenges that the coronavirus has wreaked upon us, the Broadway Lions Club continues to work to serve our community,” Knepper said in an email.
Knepper said the donation was possible through a $1,500 donation from the club, a $1,500 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation and $3,000 in matching funds from the Lions of Virginia Foundation.
To raise funds, the club held five chicken barbecues and allowed orders to be handled through a drive-thru.
In the past, the club has been able to provide financial support to Camp Jigsaw — a summer day camp for autistic children in northern Rockingham County elementary schools — but typically a lesser amount.
Before the pandemic, the club made a commitment to support the camp on a higher level and solicited additional grants to assist with it, Knepper said.
“Despite the pandemic, we completed our commitment, which we felt we needed to do,” he said. “In the past, we have had Lions participating as mentors and aides for the camp but this year’s adjustments prevented us from participating in this way this year.”
Camp Jigsaw has been held over the summer for the last two years and the third year had to be held virtually due to the pandemic.
“Not even the limitations or restrictions would allow us to disappoint our 20 campers with autism spectrum disorder, and our five peer mentors from participating in a two-week camp experience,” Knepper said. “As a Camp Jigsaw team, we were excited to introduce and provide our campers with virtual experiences.”
Before the camp transitioned to be virtual, activities would be held in person, field trips would be scheduled and volunteers would dedicate their time and service to help out.
With it being unsafe to meet in person in 2020, Knepper said the camp partnered with several people and businesses in the community to make the virtual camp possible.
“Each day began with an opening by the Camp Jigsaw team, a video of the daily activities and a closing message by the Camp Jigsaw team,” he said. “Some activities included listening to read-alouds, watching virtual field trips, building a volcano, constructing a kite, learning magic tricks, making puppy chow, playing with moon sand, completing sunscreen painting, building a mason jar aquarium, creating a pet cactus rock and playing water games.”
Supplies were purchased for each camper by local community organizations, such as the Lions Club, and delivered to the campers’ porches each week camp was in session.
Knepper said that to track a camper’s participation, parents would post pictures or videos on the camp’s private Facebook page daily with updates. That process allowed campers to be entered into a drawing for a daily raffle prize, which was delivered to their house the following day.
As the year begins to wind down, the club’s annual Pancake Days at the Broadway Fire Department’s event hall was held on Friday and Saturday. The final fundraiser will be held on Nov. 14 and will feature a virtual cash raffle.
Knepper said he hopes the club will be able to raise nearly $10,000 by the end of the year.
“The Broadway Lions Club wishes to again express our deep appreciation to the northern Rockingham County community members who have continued to support us,” Knepper said. “Because of you, we are able to support many community needs such as Camp Jigsaw, local school backpack food programs, providing eye exams or eye glasses for community members who cannot afford them and the many other services we provide in our community and support we provide for needs around the world.”