NORTH LIBERTY– They came by the hundreds, adults and children alike, to visit Santa and enjoy breakfast on Saturday, Dec. 7, in the North Liberty Recreation Center. Joy abounded in the festive environment as members of the North Liberty Lions Club prepared and served pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice and milk.
Santa was indeed on everyone’s mind. As time passed, a line formed. Parents patiently held toddlers while older children anxiously stood by their sides. They all awaited their moment with Santa; a time for the children to share their Christmas wish lists and pose for pictures with the jolly bearded one.
Santa expected a big crowd on this day so he brought with him a few elves, and invited a special guest to interact with his visitors. Jumbe, a friendly and gentle lion, was given free rein to roam throughout the facility, and Jumbe made the most of his opportunity. He spent time at the craft display, but mostly he hung out in the main gym. He sat with families at tables as they ate their breakfast. From time to time Jumbe made his way to the Kids Campsite near the community center’s main entrance. He mingled with families as they waited in line to visit Santa. He offered high fives to children, which led to requests for hugs. Hugs led to requests from parents to take pictures of their children being held by Jumbe.
But Jumbe spent most of his time next to the line of people waiting to visit Santa. There, children crawled with him on the floor and even engaged in some friendly wrestling with their new-found lion friend.
After the event Jumbe said it was heart-warming to receive hugs and high fives from many children and to see the smiles on their faces as they prepared to visit with Santa. He spoke of an extra-special moment when a little girl said to him, “I love you Mr. Lion.” When Jumbe replied by saying, “I love you too,” he was reminded of the love that is the basis for the Christmas season.
As he departed the event, Jumbe requested to leave this message with the people of North Liberty and the surrounding areas.
“The people here today are healthy and they had a very good time visiting with Santa, but not all people are this fortunate. I want people to know that the North Liberty Lions Club helps people, and I want others to joint them in this effort,” Jumbe said.
North Liberty Lions is a group of citizens committed primarily to serving people who are sight or hearing impaired or dealing with the effects of diabetes. The club provides scholarships for children to attend Camp Courageous or Camp Hertko Hollow. The Lions Club collects used eyeglasses and prepares them for use by sight-impaired people in third world countries. They work closely with the Iowa Lions Eye Bank to transport eye tissue for use with sight-impaired people, and conduct free screenings with the Iowa KidSight program, which is dedicated to enhancing the early detection and treatment of vision impairments in Iowa’s young children (target population six through 48 months of age) and providing public education about the risk of undetected vision loss. In addition, the North Liberty Lions participate in community service events as well such as Fun Days and the annual North Liberty parade.
“I want them to know the mission and work of the North Liberty Lions Club and invite interested people them to join the club,” Jumbe said.
For more information about the reward and enjoyment of being a club member visit the website at http://iowalions.org/northliberty/ .