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Area nonprofits turn Wildwood BBQ Bash into cash to address local concerns

By: Bonnie Krueger

Wildwood Area Lions Club, Rotary Club of West St. Louis County members at Wildwood BBQ Bash

The 2017 Wildwood BBQ Bash will showcase the best of the best in barbecue. To wash it down, the Rotary Club of West St. Louis County and the Wildwood Area Lions Club will be on hand to provide your favorite beverage.

In the process, they’ll be raising funds that are vital to providing assistance to the local community.

The Rotary Club and Lions used to run several separate beverage booths at the event, which sold beer, wine, water and soda. But, approximately five years ago, the charities decided that combining their efforts simply made more sense.

Past Rotary President Pat McDermott, who is a captain with the Metro-West Fire Protection District, said its partnership with the BBQ Bash began when the event was still held in Ballwin. The Lions Club joined the event when it moved to Wildwood.

According to McDermott, profits earned during the BBQ Bash are funneled into outreach accounts that fund the missions of both nonprofits.

West County Rotary

[From left] Scott Phillips, Dennis Callier, Mike Mertens, Dave Hall, Greg Beasley and Pat McDermott

“The club’s reputation in the community among the west area municipalities is of trust and respect. We get requests to volunteer at various events, which has included Ballwin Days, Backstoppalooza and Celebrate Wildwood, just to name a few,” McDermott explained. Last year, the Rotary Club provided over $34,000 in scholarship and grants. The scholarships were awarded to Parkway, Rockwood and Valley Park students and teachers, while the grants went to over 20 local organizations including Circle Of Concern, Brace For Impact and the Pond Athletic Association.

Participating at festivals helps to raise the amount of scholarship support they can provide, McDermott explained. So does having more members and McDermott said he hopes others will consider joining Rotary, which meets every Tuesday at noon at St. John Church in Ellisville. The invitation to drop in for lunch always is open.

The local Rotary Club, which has approximately 45 members, was first recognized by the International organization in 1950 in Ballwin. After several reorganizations, it was renamed in 2011 to reflect its greater service area of West County.

Although its international organization boasts over 1.4 million members, the Wildwood Area Lions Club is a small, but dedicated group. Ed Marshall has been a member since the nonprofit was charted in July 2009. He explained that the group’s BBQ Bash proceeds benefit organizations that provide vision support.

The Lions also sponsor used eyeglass donation drop-off stations around the local area and have collected over 20,000 pairs for families in need.  Additionally, the Lions partner with area nurses to identify students in need and work with organizations like the Clarkson Eye Care Foundation, Midwestern Braille Volunteers and Leader Dogs for the Blind. In addition to its impact on vision services, the Lions also sponsor Cub and Boy Scout troops and provide a college scholarship fund for one student per year.

Like the Rotary, the Lions are always seeking to build its membership.

“There are so many needs and causes out there,” Marshall said. “We are looking at ways to recruit the next generation of volunteers to get involved. It is so rewarding to be a part of the community while being able to give back.”

The Lions Club meets every second Thursday and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Summer Classics in Ellisville.

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