Lions Club flower sales are a Memorial Day tradition

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Vickie and Jeff Plank await customers on a rainy Friday afternoon in Greenfield this week, as the Lions Club wraps up its annual Memorial Day flower sales this weekened. The local club has been selling flowers for Memorial Day commemorations for more than 25 years.

Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — As the rain fell Friday afternoon, volunteers set up the Lions Club trailer alongside State Street in Greenfield and prepared to sell flowers for Memorial Day.

The local service organization has been selling silk Memorial Day flowers each year for over a quarter century, providing a patriotic floral display of red, white and blue designed to grace the gravesites of those who died serving their country.

The floral displays — some of which are designed to hang over gravestones — are designed by a woman in Richmond.

Dane Erlewein , past president of the Greenfield Lions Club and owner of Erlewein Mortuary & Crematory, said the holiday displays have long been thought of as a fitting way to honor and commemorate loved ones.

“I believe it started during the Civil War to decorate the graves of the Union soldiers who had died. Since then, it has evolved to people decorating the graves of veterans and non-veterans alike in order to remember them,” he said.

“We have a lot of repeat customers that come out every year, not only to buy flowers for their loved ones, but to support the local Lions Club,” said Erlewein. “Much like our Christmas tree sales, I think people like to spend their money in ways that support local charities, and of course all the money we make goes right back into the community.”

Sally Porter, president of the Greenfield Lions Club, said the club gives money to a wide variety of local causes, like the Hancock County Food Pantry, The Landing Place, Nameless Creek Youth Camp and Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen. The club also supports various Boy Scouts causes, like Eagle Scout projects, and awards a scholarship to a Greenfield-Central High School graduate each year.

“We try to donate and help out however we can,” said Porter, who said the Lions Club is the biggest service organization in the world.

“Most people know that we collect eyeglasses that are reconditioned and set to foreign countries where they have little or no eye care, but we do much more than that,” she said.

While Lions Clubs have widened their focus to include a number of local causes, the primary eyeglass mission came from Helen Keller herself, who commissioned the club shortly after it was founded to be “warriors for the blind,” according to Porter.

The local Lions Club also supports hearing aids to be redistributed, and supports the Indiana School for the Blind and the Deaf.

While the club is forever focused on giving, Porter said one thing it’s not receiving is enough new members.

“Most organizations like us are having a hard time getting younger members to help keep the mission going,” she said. “I can say this because I’m 74, but most of our members are getting pretty old. We had to cut down from four service projects a year.”

The club dropped its presence at the Hancock County 4-H Fair and the Riley Festival last year due to lack of members.

Both Porter and Erlewein hope that more people will see the value in joining the Lions Club to keep its mission alive.

“Our mission is to serve, and that’s what we’re here to do,” said Porter.

For information on joining the Lions Club, contact Porter at 317-371-7958 or [email protected], or visit the Greenfield Lions Club page on Facebook.

The Lions Club will sell flowers from noon to 7 p.m. through Monday, in the parking lot on the northwest corner of State Street and Green Meadows Drive, across from the McDonald’s in Greenfield. Sales are cash only.

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