In 11 years, the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club has raised and donated more than $40,000 in scholarships for local students with vision, hearing and physical disabilities.
The money supports local high school students, students at USC Aiken and Aiken Technical College and the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg.
Providing vision and hearing services and resources is a mission of the Lions organization, said Karen Olsen Edwards, the president of the Mid-Day Lions Club and a member of its Scholarship Committee.
“The money stays right here in the community,” she said, adding that the donations are a significant achievement for the club. “We’re a small club. We’re small, but we’re mighty.”
Thursday, Edwards and other club representatives awarded $1,000 scholarships to four USCA students as follows: Joshua Pontoon, a senior fine arts major; Faith Clemons, a junior exercise and sports science major; Rebecca Schander, a senior exercise and sports science major; and Hannah Bonham, a junior nursing major.
Pontoon has received the scholarship three years.
“It’s a pleasure and honor to receive it. It’s amazing,” he said. “I couldn’t believe. It helps with my tuition.”
After graduation, Clemons said she plans to be become an occupational therapist and help children with physical disabilities. With the scholarship, she can advance her career goals, she said.
“It means I have a support system of people who believe in me and who, through the funding, believe that I’m able to further my education,” she said.
Schander said the scholarship will give her the “means” to finish her education.
“I’m so close, and I just strive to finish so that one day I can open my own exercise testing clinic in the realm of exercise physiology,” she said.
Dr. Claudette Palmer, the coordinator for disability services at USCA, said the award is open to students with hearing and vision impairments and physical disabilities. To apply, students submit and essay, and members of the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club choose the recipients.
“The students appreciate having the assistance and support,” she said. “I love seeing the smiles on their faces when they come and tell me they’re a recipient of the award. Everybody can use a little bit of funding here and there, especially with college.”
Proceeds from the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club’s annual fundraiser, a wine tasting, benefit the scholarship program, Edwards said.
This year’s fundraiser, “Sip and Savor,” will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Trinity on Laurens at 213 Laurens St. NW.
The event will feature wine, entertainment and food prepared by Trinity’s chef.
“The food is fabulous,” Edwards said.
Tickets are $30.
For more information, visit e-clubhouse.org/sites/aikenmiddaysc/calendar.php.