Friday, July 22, 2022

Windham Lions host ‘Touch-A-Truck’ for families Saturday

By Ed Pierce

Kids of all ages will be able to put their imagination into gear this Saturday as a free “Touch-A-Truck” event arrives in Windham.

Sponsored by the Windham Lions Club, the “Touch-a-Truck” event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23 in the parking lot behind Hannaford on Route 302 in North Windham. Participants should use Franklin Drive to access the event, organizers say.

The Windham Lions Club will host a free 'Touch-A-Truck'
event for all ages from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23
in the parking lot behind Hannaford in North Windham.
The goal of the event is to create awareness for the club
and will feature 11 large vehicles. COURTESY PHOTO
Participants will be able to climb into the cab of a fire truck, a police car, explore a land excavator, a dump truck and more. There will be a total of 11 large vehicles from throughout the community for kids to see up close and honk the horn.

The event has been in the planning stages for months by Windham Lions Club members.

“Our club members started talking about Touch-A-Truck in the spring of 2021 and had initially considered holding it that November,” said Evelyn Brissette, Windham Lions Club president, “After more discussion and being concerned about the weather we decided to go with a summer of 2022 event instead. We set a date and set up a committee consisting of Gene Tanguay, Ron Soucy, Camille Swander, Cathy Fortier and I to work on this event.”

The “Touch-A-Truck” event provides a hands-on educational community event to see and touch the trucks and machinery used in the community and to meet the men and women who operate these machines. Participating vehicles will be displayed in a safe, supervised environment and it’s the perfect venue for exploring the machinery while learning about the people who build, protect and serve Windham.

The idea for hosting “Touch-A-Truck” for the Lions Club came from an idea Brissette had.

“I had done some research online and it seemed like Touch-A-Truck would be a fun way to interact with kids and people in our community,” she said. “We also want our community to be aware that the Windham Lions Club does exist and with everyone’s help we can make life a lot brighter for those less fortunate. We thought 2021 might be a hard year for many families and decided to start the Windham Adopt-A-Family program. It appears 2022 will be more challenging than ever.”

Brissette said she believes that when people take an interest in their own community, and work together for a cause, they can make a difference.

“Our Club members discussed it and decided to go with it. We did not realize upfront what a big undertaking Touch-A-Truck would be for our older, small group. We hope other caring people from our community, that visit our event on Saturday, might be inclined to give a little of their time and join us. We need more members.”

There is no admission charge to attend “Touch-A-Truck” and Brissette said that Poland Springs has donated 320 bottles of water for the event,

“BJs and others donated snacks, ice and supplies. We hope by giving these items out for free that the public will feel generous in making cash donations for our Windham Adopt-A-Family Christmas program,” Brissette said.

There will also be balloon entertainers and an ice cream truck for those who wish to purchase frozen treats.

According to Brissette, last year the Windham Lions Club chose to help struggling families in need at Christmas and the program was such a success, they plan on continuing that effort in 2022.

“We wanted to help out because we were aware that many Windham families were struggling to give their children the Christmas they had been hoping to have,” she said. “I contacted the Windham Veteran’s Center and the Windham Food Pantry. Our club was looking for deserving families that needed assistance. Six families were referred to us and we were told what their needs were.”

One of the families they helped was a senior veteran and his wife who needed assistance with an unhealthy environmental issue. The other five families had children attending school from the primary grades to high school.

“We purchased the clothing that was requested as well as toys for the younger ones,” Brissette said. “Through cards, notes, and the pictures that the children actually drew, we were told that each of the families had a wonderful Christmas. It is our hope that we can adopt more than six families this year. Again, it will all depend on our community’s generosity.

All cash profits from “Touch-A-Truck,” the club’s craft event in October, and the cash donated at their annual “Stuff-the-Bus” event in November will go to the Windham Adopt-A-Family program, Brissette said.

Since its inception, the Windham Lions Club has been instrumental in the community, supporting a variety of causes and issues affecting the lives of residents.

Some of those include purchasing and manning Windham’s first rescue van in 1968; donations to the Windham Public Library; helping with expenses related to eye exams and eyeglass when they meet the Lions Club criteria; assisting with expenses related to hearing tests and hearing aids when they meet the Lions Club criteria; conducting RSU 14 eye screening with more than 5,000 students screened so far; sponsoring the “Student of the Month” program; Speakout competitions; Breakfast with Santa; Stuff-the-Bus with more than 10,000 pounds of food collected for those in need; supporting the Windham Veteran’s Center; and collecting used eye glasses and hearing aids.

Brissette said the Lions Club is grateful to Windham Mall owner Jay Wise, truck company and business participants, and Windham Public agencies for their help with the “Touch-A-Truck” event.

“We want our neighbors to realize that our group does exist and that we are doing more than they even realize,” she said. “We also want our neighbors to know that through their generosity we can help to make a nicer Christmas possible for the families we are able to adopt this year. We can’t take care of everyone’s problems, but we will do everything we can with our community’s support.” <

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