Plant a Tree This Arbor Day

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Lions Lake in Fall

Photo Credit to Wisconsin Lions Camp

Friday marks the observance of Arbor Day, a holiday dedicated to celebrating the beneficial role that trees play in our lives. Of course, this year’s celebration will be different we’ve seen in years past due to the novel coronavirus and extended “Safer to Home” Orders.

Two years ago, we developed tips on planning a tree planting project with a group, but we know that these points may not be especially pertinent to life in 2020 since none of us can predict when it will be considered safe to gather in groups. However, we think it’s important to bear in mind that planting a tree doesn’t necessarily require a group; instead, it may be a memorable outing for families wanting to make a positive impact on the environment.

Since the ground is no longer frozen (that is here in Central Wisconsin,) now is a fantastic time to plant a tree. By planting in the spring, you allow the tree an opportunity to grow all summer long then prepare for the cold winter months. Nonetheless, there are a few challenges that you will likely need to address. With the help of BHG, we’ve compiled a few tips to improve your chances of a successful tree planting:

  1. Safety first! Before even picking up the shovel, please be sure there will be no utility lines down below. Call the Diggers Hotline (811) before planning to dig. The dispatcher will ask you questions about your project and will need to reach out to local public utilities, which can take some time. The best time to call is two to three days before digging your hole.
  2. When you are ready to plant, dig a hole two to three times as wide as the root ball of your tree to allow for sufficient backfill soil.
  3. As you place the root ball within the hole, be sure to handle carefully to keep it all intact.
  4. Once the root ball is in your ideal location, surround it with lightly packed soil. Loose soil will help the roots grow easily.
  5. The biggest obstacle to planting in the spring is that the tree will need to make new roots and new leaves at the same time, which requires a lot of sugar and water. Be sure to give the tree a large drink of water just after planting and every day for weeks after. Adding mulch to the base of the tree will help keep the weeds out and reduce water loss.

If you are a Lion or Lioness, and plan to plant one or more trees in observance of Arbor Day, we invite you to share your numbers with Multiple District’s Environmental Chair, Lion Anita LeCleir at tia1937@yahoo.com.

At Lions Pride, our job is to preserve, protect and provide for Lions Camp and all other WLF projects, but we think those three essential words can also be applied to our responsibility as conscious citizens.

Instead of thinking of Arbor Day as just a one-day celebration, perhaps we can consider it as an opportunity to continually come up with new ways to improve the world around us. Remember that small steps, like planting a tree, can have a positive effect on our environment as well as generations to come.

Thank you for continuing to protect Planet Earth!

 

Celebrating National Park Week with Virtual Tours

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Each April, the National Park Service (NPS) teams up with the National Park Foundation to celebrate America’s natural treasures. The week encourages Americans to get out and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer than through exploration, education and discovery. This year, of course, is different than any other year in recent memory due to the novel coronavirus.

Like many other organizations all over the country, the NPS has modified its operations by following the CDC as well as other state and local public health experts. At this time, the majority of national parks have closed their facilities and canceled their events to prevent the spread of COVID-19; however, operations are decided on a park-by-park basis.

Luckily, despite the current social distancing limitations, we all still have an opportunity to commemorate National Park Week. In 2020, NPS has placed its focus on digital experiences.

That’s right, it is still possible to visit the parks during National Park Week (April 18 to April 26); that is with the help of technology and a little imagination. Review this list of available virtual tours:

  • Clara Barton National Historic Site
    You can visit the home of founder and first president of the American Red Cross. Clara Barton’s house in Echo, Maryland, served as the first national headquarters of the organization, and was her home for the last 15 years of her life.
  • Crater National Park
    You can take a virtual trip to the deepest lake in the US. Crater National Park. Located in Southern Oregon, Crater Lake was formed by a volcanic eruption and collapse and currently holds the honor of the ninth-deepest lake in the world with the deepest measured depth coming to 1949 feet.
  • New Bedford Whaling National Park
    New Bedford, Massachusetts, was known as the capital of the 19th century whaling industry and a prominent safe haven along the Underground Railroad. You have the opportunity to take an interactive or video tour of the Nathan and Polly Johnson House, a home that welcomed and helped those traveling along the Underground Railroad.

If you don’t have time for an entire tour but are interested in a change of scenery, you might be interested to know that NPS also has live webcams placed all over the country. You can catch glimpses of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Yellowstone National Park, Katmai National Park & Preserve and more.

We understand that life feels challenging right now, we must keep reminding ourselves that the social distancing is just a temporary setback. Before long, this period will just be a distant memory that we can look back on and be proud that we got through it together. But until that day comes, be sure to keep looking for joy – it might be right outside or in a virtual tour.

Happy Early National Park Week from Lions Pride!

 

 

 

2020 Tax Filing Extension

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Typically, this would be the time of year when people would be concerned about filing their taxes on time, but there is another worry on everyone’s mind – COVID-19.

Due to the current health and economic state of the country, the Treasury Department and IRS recently announced that it would be extending the federal income due date from April 15 to July 15, 2020. This announcement follows the Presidents’ emergency declaration to pursue the Stafford Act as we all learn to navigate life through a pandemic. Like the IRS, the state of Wisconsin has also extended the filing deadline.

Additionally, taxpayers will have the option to defer federal and state tax payments until July, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deadline applies to all taxpayers, to include individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and all other non-corporate tax filers as well as those who pay self-employment tax. There is no need to make any special requests to qualify for this deferment, as it applies to everyone.

Although the filing deadline has been extended, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig encourages taxpayers not to procrastinate, especially if expecting a refund. At this time, most tax refunds are still being issued with 21 days.

If you are still working with your tax preparer on last year’s taxes, Lions Pride would like to remind you to practice extra patience and display even more kindness to essential business workers during this time. We are all being tested with daily challenges and are doing the best we can in the given situation.

Remember that we are in this battle together. Please continue to follow guidelines from CDC. Stay safe out there!

Safely Celebrating Easter During a Pandemic

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close up of girl hands coloring easter eggs

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

We don’t have to tell you that life has been incredibly unpredictable lately. Between limiting public trips and not being able to see loved ones in person, it feels like normalcy has completely disappeared.

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that we are more than likely just seeing the first effects of COVID-19. Updated projections from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) show that the coronavirus outbreak will peak in Wisconsin around April 26 and could overwhelm intensive care units. Researchers are still assuming that Wisconsin residents maintain social distancing, and schools, as well as nonessential businesses, remain closed. This new information means that we need to acclimate to our new world for the time being.

With Easter quickly approaching, many people may be wondering how they will attend Sunday’s mass. Although some churches remain open, Governor Evers has limited gatherings of ten or more people at this time. As a precautionary measure, several churches have decided to close their doors and begin transitioning to digital services.

Church leaders have been holding services using video conferencing software or by pre-recording videos and posting them to their organization’s websites, allowing members to watch on their schedule. Churches have also been reimagining community by becoming more active on social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Yes, even in the age of social distancing, it is possible to stay connected.

Easter is a time of faith and family. If you are feeling especially distant from your beloved family members during the pandemic, you can follow the lead of church leaders by including these types of technologies within your own communities. Here are a few ways to celebrate together but separately during the Easter season:

  • Send e-cards to let loved ones know that you are thinking of them during this difficult period
  • Find an Easter craft that everyone can do within their homes and send photos of the finished products
  • Hide Easter eggs around your home and conduct a virtual hunt with nieces, nephews and grandchildren
  • Set up video conferencing to create digital family dinners

What other ideas do you have to celebrate Easter with your family members virtually? We’d love to hear from you in our comments below.

We understand that we are all currently going through trying times, but if we stick together and follow the guidelines from the CDC, we will come back better and stronger than ever before. From all of us at Lions Pride, remember that we’re in this fight together!

 

How to Keep Active While Staying at Home

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Unprecedented times call for extraordinary measures. This week, Governor Tony Evers instructed Wisconsinites to stay in their homes to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

At this time, Wisconsin is not under lockdown, but instead an attempt for residents to limit unnecessary trips.  All non-essential businesses will be closed for the time being. Essential businesses include healthcare offices, grocery stores and caregiving facilities. See the entire list of essential business categories.

As we navigate the journey to find our new normal, at least for the time being, we’re here to help you and your immediate family stay active during the “Safer at Home” Order. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to keep busy during the pandemic:

  1. Discover free exercise videos on YouTubeAmid gyms and fitness studios closing, many physical trainers and instructors are turning to YouTube to provide high-quality video training. Whether you would consider yourself an amateur yogi, advanced cyclist or free weight enthusiast, you’re sure to find a video to fit your available equipment and physical abilities.
  2. Play a gameWhen was the last time your family gathered around the dining room table and played a board game? If you’re struggling to remember, it’s probably been too long. Get out everyone’s favorite game and play a quick round or two. Don’t forget to keep the hand sanitizer close! You may also want to consider disinfecting any necessary pieces before getting started.
  3. Try a new recipeWhile carry-out is still an option, those who would prefer to stay in can take this time as an opportunity to practice creativity in the kitchen. Ask friends about participating in a recipe swap or scour Pinterest to find a dash of inspiration.If you’re looking for another way to incorporate fun into your meal-time routine, find an obscure holiday to celebrate. Saturday, March 28, is Something on a Stick Day.
  4. Complete an unfinished projectWe’d be willing to bet that you don’t have to travel far to find a project that you wanted to finish “later.” (Don’t worry, we’re right there with you!) Later has officially arrived, so it’s time to take this opportunity to dust those fan blades, hang that picture or touch up paint in the living room.
  5. Call a friend or family memberDon’t forget to check in with your social circle during this time of uncertainty. Pick up the phone to call or video chat with a loved one that you haven’t talked with in a while. We can guarantee that they will love to hear your voice or see your face. Isn’t technology fantastic in a time when we can’t physically be together?
  6. Try a new craftWe hope we aren’t the only ones who have grand ambitions to try a new hobby. With so many of us not participating in our usual activities, it can feel like we are not using our brain to its fullest potential. Take some time to explore a new passion, such as woodworking, painting, podcasting or knitting. There are hundreds of thousands of tutorials online just waiting for you.
  7. Read a bookYou know the last time you binge-watched a TV series, but what about the last time you treated yourself to a good book? Spend an afternoon re-reading an old classic or peruse an electronic library to find a new favorite in a digital format.
  8. Go for a walkAlthough we are all encouraged to stay at home, Governor Evers mentioned that walks are still important. It’s common to feel cooped up at a time like this so, so be sure to get at least a few minutes of fresh air. Your body and mind will thank you for the break.
  9. Start a journalIt may be hard to believe, but we are currently living in a time that will be written about in history books. Document your experience of the coronavirus in a journal to remember what life years down the road. Although it may be difficult to imagine, it’s critical to keep in mind that this, too, shall pass.

How are you keeping busy during the “Safer at Home” Order? Let us know in the comments below to help us keep our readers engaged during this bizarre time.

The Lions Pride Office currently has limited hours of availability to cooperate with the Wisconsin “Safer at Home” Order. We already look forward to getting back to business but know that normal life will unfold in due time.

Stay safe out there!

Staying In with Man’s Best Friend

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person in brown cable knife sweater holding white and black puppy

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We are living in uncertain times. We don’t have to tell about the risk of the Coronavirus. It’s all anyone has been talking about since the White House released a National Emergency concerning the global spread of COVID-19.

In an attempt to flatten the curve and reduce the very real possibility of a severe strain on healthcare systems in the coming weeks, folks are encouraged to self-quarantine and distance themselves from others, limiting their company to ten people or less.

We think everyone must work to stay optimistic when life feels particularly dark, especially when you can’t necessarily count on the physical camaraderie of friends and family. Luckily, there is one companion you can still count on – your dog.

March 23 is National Puppy Day, a day for all of us to celebrate the joy dogs bring to our lives. We understand that the official unofficial holiday is still days away, but given the circumstances, we think the in-home festivities can start early. Here are a few fun ways to honor your best furry friend:

  1. Go for plenty of walks

    Although there is still a bit of snow on the ground, we have evidence that spring is coming. Take advantage of the slightly warmer days by getting out and enjoying the fresh air. Think about taking another path to explore an area of your neighborhood that might not already be familiar with.

  2. Make homemade treats

    Supermarkets and convenience stores carry dozens of dog treat options, but did you know that you can make your own goodies at home? It’s also more straightforward than you might imagine! Review these 25 simple dog treat recipes that contain five ingredients or less.

  3. Step up your grooming game

    There’s no denying that life gets busy and as a result, certain tasks never get completed. One of these jobs may be the act of brushing or grooming your dog, especially if he or she is not a fan of the process. If you have never been able to establish a good grooming routine, consider using this extra time at home to get started. It’s never too late to start a new habit. Remember to keep those homemade treats nearby for a tasty reward!

  4. Create fun toys

    Does this situation ring true in your home? You are excitedly present your dog with a brand-new toy that you just picked up from the store. Your dog chews on the toy for approximately 20 minutes before a) destroying it or b) never picking it up again. Rather than spending money on another toy, consider making one yourself from items you can find around the house. Check out these 33 DIY dog toys.

We understand that time at work can get lonesome, but don’t forget to rely on your #1 companion. We bet that these pups feel extra lucky to have their humans at home. How will you express your appreciation for your dog on National Puppy Day? Your ideas are welcome in the comments below.

On behalf of the Lions Pride Board and Staff, we’d like to send a friendly reminder to regularly check in with the CDC for resources and updates surrounding the Corona Virus outbreak. And don’t forget to stay positive. Stay safe out there!

Celebrate Popcorn Lovers Day

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healthy snack movie popcorn

Photo by Keegan Evans on Pexels.com

Popcorn fanatics unite! Today is Popcorn Lovers Day, which always takes place on the second Thursday of March. Don’t confuse this celebration with National Popcorn Day, a holiday that happens annually on January 19.

You may be wondering why did someone believe we needed a date to celebrate popcorn? The reason was pretty simple. The unofficial holiday was created only eight years ago by a man named Bob Matthews of Rochester, New York. The reason for its creation? It was Bob’s favorite snack, and he and his wife would eat it most Thursdays all year long.

You might scoff at the idea of popcorn for dinner, but when properly prepared, it can be a guilt-free indulgence. Let’s celebrate this poptastic unofficial holiday with some healthy fun facts:

  • A cup of plain popcorn contains only 31 calories.
  • Popcorn has more fiber than pretzels or potato chips, more protein than any cereal grain and more iron than eggs or roast beef. It really sounds like the perfect treat to us!
  • Many do not realize, but popcorn is a whole grain food, making it naturally high in key nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.
  • A study from the University of Scranton found that popcorn contains substantial amounts of polyphenols, antioxidants commonly linked to various health benefits, including better circulation, improved digestion and a reduced risk of many diseases.
  • Both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formerly known American Dietetic Association, and American Diabetes Association agree that popcorn can be exchanged for bread for people on weight control diets. We probably don’t have to tell you, but this is our all-time favorite fun fact. Learn more about how Lions Pride works to support Community Diabetes Education in Wisconsin.
  • With its low calories, high fiber content and low energy, popcorn has all the characteristics of a weight loss friendly food.
  • Even though it has a multitude of health qualities, preparation can make or break the nutritional value of popcorn. The best way to prepare healthy popcorn is on the stove or in an air-popper with no oil.

Learn more satisfying health benefits of popcorn.

How do you feel about popcorn? If you have a favorite way to enjoy popcorn or have chosen a bowl of popcorn as an alternative to make dinner, let us know in the comments below.

Happy Popcorn Lovers Day from Lions Pride!

Springing Ahead Without Losing Sleep

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closeup photography of adult short coated tan and white dog sleeping on gray textile at daytime

Photo by Christian Domingues on Pexels.com

March has officially arrived! The third month of the year brings a multitude of emotions. Many of us are hopeful that the coldest winter days are behind us, excited knowing that spring is right around the corner and perhaps a bit anxious after realizing that the start of Daylight Saving Time is less than 48 hours away.

You might be surprised to learn that that anxiety is not exactly unwarranted. While some of us may have no problems springing forward, others may not fare as well. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, some people can take up to seven days to adjust to the time change, though it might feel even longer! Anyone has ever experienced a sleepless night will empathize with these unlucky souls knowing that a lack of sleep can have a serious impact on mood, productivity and alertness.

We know that losing an hour of sleep is not exactly anyone’s preference, but it means that the Spring Equinox is only weeks away! The best way to create a better transition is by planning ahead. Follow these tips to start preparing your body for the new season:

  • Go to bed earlier

The AASM recommends that people start adjusting their sleeping and waking times by 15-20 minutes two to three days before DST. If you start going to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight, it will only feel like you are losing another 15 minutes on Saturday night, instead of the full hour.

  • Establish a healthy bedtime routine

To effectively get to sleep on time, you’ll want to make sure you include relaxation before bedtime. Engage in an activity that calms you, such as taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or meditate. Whatever you decide to do, stay away from your mobile devices. The blue light from these electronics suppresses melatonin and make it harder to fall asleep. Read through other reasons why you should consider putting the phone down at least 30 minutes before getting your shuteye.

  • Soak up the morning sun

On Saturday and Sunday morning, try to get out in the sun – even if it’s just sitting in a window. We may spend much of our days indoors, but don’t forget that sunlight still helps regulate our sleeping patterns. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the sun will alert our brains and set our bodies into motion.

  • Plan to nap on Sunday afternoon

Ideally, on Sunday morning, you would be waking up your new waking time (15 minutes earlier), but treat yourself to an afternoon nap. Make sure that you’re not snoozing too close to bedtime and try to keep it short. Studies show that most people do best when allowing 10 to 15 minutes for napping.

What other tips do you have for surviving DST? Let us know in the comments below.

Here at Lions Pride, we are also not thrilled with the idea of losing a precious hour of sleep when springing forward, but we keep trying to remind ourselves that winter is almost through. Always remember to look for the bright side and enjoy the passage to spring!

 

A Leap (Year) of Faith

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Wisconsin Lions Camp Leap of Faith

Photo Credit to Wisconsin Lions Camp

It’s that time again! If you’ve looked at a calendar sometime in the last month, you’ve probably noticed an extra day at the end of this one. Every four years, February gains an extra day as we ensure our calendar stays consistent with the planet’s rotation around the sun, most often known as a Leap Year.

This particular year feels especially symbolic to us as we take a leap of faith into the final phase of the Lions Pride Endowment Fund. But, before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at how our organization began.

It all started with one name that we hope is not new to you – Dewey Carl. Back in 1974, Dewey joined the Manawa Lions Club. From that point on, he became a dedicated member of the Lions Organization, holding numerous positions at the local, state and international level. From 1986 to 1987, Dewey served as the Wisconsin Lions Foundation President. He later served as the District Governor and Council Chair from 1990 to 1991.

During that time, he recognized an unmet need. Expenses for Lions Camp and all WLF projects had tremendously increased, but the ever-important annual Lions Club Donations were not keeping up. He knew that many Wisconsin residents came to rely on these programs, so an additional financial source was crucial to keep them running.

He began establishing a donor-directed endowment fund. Then, in May of 2005, the Lions of Wisconsin voted to approve the campaign at the State Convention (again, following a Leap Year.) Since that time, the Lions Pride Board and Staff have been working tirelessly to preserve, protect and provide for Lions Camp and all statewide projects.

To date, the Lions Pride Endowment Fund has raised over $8.5 million to further the mission. Now, we are looking to unite our efforts to reach $10 million by the 2021 State Convention. Attaining this goal will provide more than $300,000 a year in perpetuity to the Wisconsin Lions Foundation in support of Lions Camp and all WLF statewide projects, sunsetting the campaign.

Lion Dewey showed us that there is nothing more important than working to improve the lives of others. His spirit lives on as we progress towards our end goal. With your continued support, we can raise the last $1.5 million to financially assist the Wisconsin Lions Foundation indefinitely. We hope you’ll consider including Lions Pride in your annual giving by making your donation today.

It’s been a wild ride, and we feel so fortunate to have our donors by our side. We cannot adequately express our gratitude for what your support has meant to us over the years. Let’s work together to achieve this milestone.

 

Fat Tuesday Fun Facts

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Photo Credit to Mathieu Cheze on Unsplash

Spring is coming! The piles of snow may say otherwise, but we are confident it’s on the way. How do we know? Because Fat Tuesday is already next week, so Easter is already on the horizon.

As you know, Mardi Gras is a celebration held the day before Ash Wednesday when Christians celebrate with fatty foods and fun. Traditionally, participants would use the day as an opportunity to eat the richest, unhealthiest foods that remained in their homes before starting the season of Lent.

Although Mardi Gras may not be a huge holiday here in Wisconsin, that is not the case 1150 miles south. Fat Tuesday is one of the biggest parties of the year for New Orleans, so we thought we’d celebrate with a few fun facts:

  • The first Mardi Gras Celebration took place on March 3, 1699, by French explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Sier de Bienville. Upon arriving at present-day NewOrleans, they named their landing spot Point du Mardi Gras and held a small celebration (nothing like we see today!)
  • While the terms “Carnival” and “Mardi Gras” are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two different time periods. “Carnival” is the period of fun and feasting that happens between January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany) and Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras is the final day of festivity before the season of Lent begins.
  • The first Mardi Gras Parade was held on February 24, 1857, by the Krewe of Comus. Krewes are individual groups often named after Greek gods and goddesses. Each Mardi Gras Parade Krewe has a unique history and picks a new theme each year.
  • You have likely noticed three colors associated with the celebration: purple, green and gold. These colors were chosen by the Rex, the King of Carnival, in 1892. Purple represents justice; green stands for faith and gold symbolized power.
  • There is not an “official” Mardi Gras. Many may be surprised to learn that Mardi Gras is a holiday like Christmas or Independence Day (although New Orleans is typically the only city where businesses are closed,) so it belongs to everyone. In other areas of the United States, the government may be in charge of their Mardi Gras celebrations, but this does not hold true in New Orleans.
  • Even if you’ve never attended Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, you likely already know that the holiday is big, but you still may be shocked to learn how big. In 2019, the Mardi Gras celebration included 54 parades, 1061 floats, 588 marching bands and 135,000+ participants.

We were surprised to learn just how much history is behind Fat Tuesday, but we know this is just a small sliver of facts. Do you have a Mardi Gras story to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Whether you choose to spend Fat Tuesday out and about or prefer to indulge in the comfort of your own home, we hope you enjoy the celebration. Happy Mardi Gras from Lions Pride!