The ongoing pandemic has forced community groups and organizations to hit the pause button on a number of events and activities. However, after some detailed planning, members of the Hopkinton Lions Club were able to sponsor back-to-back events in December to bring some much-needed enjoyment to all those who took part.
On Dec. 17, the Lions Club moved forward with its Massachusetts Lions High School Student Club Level Speech Competition, which provides local students the opportunity to speak publicly on a specific topic, competing against other students.
“We held it virtually this year,” explained Hopkinton Lions Club member Mike Tarsi. “Four Hopkinton students took part.”
This year’s topic was “Is winning everything?” Students were given eight minutes to speak and were judged on delivery, effectiveness and organization of their speech. The competition begins at the local club level and then proceeds through several other levels, eventually leading to a final statewide competition.
Tarsi noted public speaking is a “great skill set to have that students will always benefit from.”
For the local club level, sophomore Carmen Thomas came in first place and received an award of $100. The runner-up was junior Vania Gautam. As a result, Thomas advanced to the regional level of the competition.
Lions Club members expressed their gratitude to Rich Bettina, Steve Perryman and Connie Wright for volunteering their time to judge the competition.
Two days later, the Lions Club hosted Santa’s Special Kids, which gave local families who have children with special needs the opportunity to visit with Santa in a more controlled environment.
The annual Santa event normally is held at Golden Pond.
“The nature of these kids, some of them don’t like crowds or noise so we try to create a nice, peaceful environment for them to feel comfortable in,” Tarsi explained. “However, because of COVID we couldn’t hold it at Golden Pond this year.”
As a result, the Lions Club moved forward with an outdoor venue, using the parking lot at St. John’s church, and made sure all COVID-19 guidelines were in place, including masks and social distancing. Thanks to Mother Nature’s cooperation, the day was sunny with mild temperatures.
“The Lions Club made sure the pandemic wasn’t going to stop Santa from visiting, and we were thankful St. John’s helped us make that happen,” Tarsi said.
Local photographer Christine Snow volunteered her services to take photos of families participating. Goodie bags filled with candy and toys were given out.
Approximately 10 families took part in the event. Because registration was required and each visit was scheduled, the Lions Club was able to ensure a more controlled environment so youngsters weren’t overwhelmed.
“The kids could take their time talking to Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas, which was everything from puppies to slime,” Tarsi said.
For more information on the Lions Club and what the organization does as well as upcoming events, visit the club’s website at hopkintonlions.org or on Facebook at Hopkinton Lions Club.