Leos help Newtown heal

Seniors Dylan Otto and Robert Draper, who also serves as Leo Club president. (Photos provided by Jeff Larrison)

Seniors Dylan Otto and Robert Draper, who also serves as Leo Club president. (Photos provided by Jeff Larrison)

Through all you can eat pancakes, sausage, donuts, juice, milk and coffee, the Westfield High School Leo Club raised funds to assist those directly affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy on March 2.

“The students in Leo Club are truly focused on making a difference in our Westfield community, but when the tragedy at Newtown occurred, we began to look for ways to help,” WHS Leo Club Advisor Dawn Grinnage said.

The Westfield Leos recently reached out to the Newtown Leo Club to see whether there might be anything they could do to assist the Newtown Leos with programs or projects targeting people affected by the tragedy. The Newtown Leos suggested the Westfield Leos consider raising funds to help with a foundation the Newtown Lions Club has organized.

“We decided to host the breakfast and donate all funds to this cause,” Grinnage said.

The funds raised will help pay counseling expenses not covered by health insurance (or uninsured) for individuals who were first responders, children and immediate family members, or staff from Sandy Hook Elementary.

“All of the Leos showed up at 6:30 a.m. with smiles on their faces and continued for the next five hours,” Grinnage said. “This was a great experience for all involved and it looks like this will become an annual event for our club.”

The Westfield Lions Clubhouse, 120 Jersey St., hosted the breakfast with members of the club assisting the Leos.

“The breakfast turned out to be a big success,” Westfield Lion Jeff Larrison said. “The Leo Club will be presenting a $1,300 check to the Lions Club International Director at our district convention on Saturday at the Palomino Ballroom. She’s from Connecticut and will be speaking about how the Connecticut Lions Clubs are assisting the Newtown residents.”

The Westfield High School Leo Club was established in 2009 and is part of a worldwide program founded by Lions Club International. Like their Lion counterparts, Leo club members enjoy serving their neighbors and watching positive results unfold.

Leos 2From left: Sophomore Anne Watson, senior Chandalay Sovan, junior Trinity Centino and senior Jessica Herron.

Leos 3Freshman Kyle Grinnage fixes the Dunkin Donuts.

Leos 4Leo Club Advisor Dawn Grinnage volunteers as cashier with her youngest daughter, Ali. Ali, 8, and her sister, Arielle, worked the entire event and are future Leo club members.

Leos 5Westfield High School Leo Club members prepare pancake batter before their fundraising breakfast on March 2.