Who would have thought our Oneida-Sherrill Lions Club pancake breakfast fundraiser on Nov. 7, 2010 would be so inspiring and reassuring that there still are great young people out there?
Visualize this moment if you can -- it's 5:30 a.m. on a chilly November Sunday morning as it's time to wake Gabby and Sam up to go to work at the breakfast for their fourth year in a row (and no, I don't force them to go). And would you believe it wasn't just them, but Sam's two Camden High School friends Alisha Merrick and Brandi Robinson as well (I didn't force them to go either)? Truthfully, I couldn't understand the attraction for a couple of teenagers to give up the best part of a Sunday -- not to mention voluntarily get up at that already mentioned 5:30 a.m. -- and work with a group of Lions Club members. Seriously, I'm 46 and I was the youngest member there so it wasn't like they were chilling out with a gang of their peers!
Anyways, whatever Sam told them about the joy of working at the breakfast must have been good because these young ladies showed up the night before for the trip to my place for a pre-pancake breakfast sleepover. Come that Sunday at 5:30 a.m. I witnessed something reserved only for Christmas morning -- all four of the girls bounded right out of bed and were ready to head out the door within an hour! They certainly don't do that for school or church ...
(Waitress Gabrielle Jaquays, 17, serves a tasty breakfast to fellow Oneida-Sherrill Lions Club volunteer helpers, from left, Alisha Merrick, 16, Samantha Jaquays, 16, and Brandi Robinson, 15, at the club's annual fundraising pancake breakfast on Nov. 7, 2010)
Besides pancake breakfast regulars Gabby and Sam we had another faithful helper teen make his return visit to the event this year -- our dashing dish washer, Dan Musgrove, grandson of Lion John Musgrove. The Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School student didn't see many breaks in the action during the seven-hour marathon of soap suds. He kept up a fast pace alongside Granddad in making sure everybody was eating off of clean plates (that's a health code rule, I guess).
(Dan Musgrove, 16, strikes a pose as grandad John Musgrove chuckles as they keep the dishes and utensils spotless at the pancake breakfast)
The fivesome of Lions member relatives weren't the only teens there, however. Shortly after we got started serving, a quartet of Oneida High School students --Ann DuChene, Candra Connelly, Taylor White, and Tom Holtom -- came out as part of the Oneida-Canastota Leos group (a student version of the Lions Club). They also slaved like dogs delivering plates of food and filling cups of coffee, cleaning and setting tables, and preparing eating utensils.
(From left, Candra Connelly, 16, Tom Holtom, 15, Taylor White, 17, and Ann DuChene, 16, join in the fun of the pancake breakfast serving the crowd of appreciative and hungry diners)
(Here's the whole gang -- but wait, there's more! Even with all of these glowing examples of the helpfulness of youth, the most incredible moment of inspiration was still to come ...)
We are all bustling pretty quick as there wasn't much break in the crowd all morning, when 10-year-old Sierra Bloom comes up to me and asks if she can help us. Her friend Sarah Wayland-Smith, also 10, also offers her assistance as well. So, I'm figuring why not humor this little girls, let them do something easy for the couple of minutes they would be interested before they decided it wasn't for them. Whoa -- was I wrong! These two young spitfires started cleaning tables, serving breakfasts, and even pouring hot coffee. I watched amazed, knowing that the future of community service in Central New York was in good hands!
(Sarah Wayland-Smith, left, and Sierra Bloom came out of nowhere at the pancake breakfast as our surprise volunteers -- hustling around the tables and leaving us older folks in their dust)
(There was no stopping these 5th-graders ... they cleaned tables, served plates of pancakes and sausage, and even poured hot coffee without spilling a drop!)
Seriously, we Lions are getting on in the years, so we couldn't do it without the able-bodied assistance of all of our young helpers. Here's some big kudos for all of our helpers! Hope to see you again next year!
(And Dan had the most important job of them all -- finishing off the leftovers!)