How much is a Lions’ silver dollar worth? About $8 million. That’s how much Lions Clubs International hopes to raise for LCIF if Congress passes a commemorative coin bill honoring the centennial of Lions in 2017. Getting Congressional approval is not automatic. Congress passes only two commemorative coin bills each year. But many Lions including past international presidents, past international directors and other members have lobbied or will lobby their congressional representatives to pass the bi-partisan legislation. One side of the coin will display the LCI logo. LCI has not decided yet what will be on the other side of the coin, but the design most likely will involve something representative of Lions such as We Serve in Braille. If approved, the U.S. Mint will produce as many as 400,000 coins and set a price of around $45, depending on the price of silver. (Coin dealers later will charge more.) After the U.S. Mint recovers its cost, a $10 surcharge for every coin sold will go to LCIF and its programs for the visually impaired, those with disabilities, youths and victims of natural disasters. The commemorative coin idea originated with two members of the Sandy Spring Lions Club in Maryland. Brother Meredith Pattie, a past district governor, and Alan Ballard were at a luncheon for Melvin Jones Fellows when they began to brainstorm ways to support LCIF. “Our first idea was a coin for the 50th anniversary of the death of Melvin Jones [in 1961]. But we realized we were too late for that,” says Pattie. Pattie and Ballard, who has a modest coin collection, put together a thick notebook on commemorative coins. They eventually formed a nine-person Lions’ committee from District 22 C that includes Past International Director Joseph Gaffigan, who, as LCIF chairperson for the district, was the main speaker at the luncheon. Co-sponsors of the Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act, H.R. 2139, are Rep. Peter Roskam, a Republican whose district in Illinois includes Oak Brook and LCI headquarters, and Rep. Larry Kissell, a Democrat from North Carolina who is a Lion. Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas who is a Lion, introduced the bill, S. 1299, in June in that chamber. The legislation needs 290 co-sponsors in the U. S. House and 67 co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate to pass. Lions are asked to write or call their representatives to urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 2139. The LCI Web site (www.lionsclubs.org/coin) offers tips on contacting lawmakers and includes a regularly updated tally of number of co-sponsors. Pattie is convinced the coin will be minted. “I think it’s a slam dunk. Lions are an organization with good standing,” he says. But he and his committee, as well as LCI, encourage Lions to call or write their legislator to urge co-sponsorship.
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