The shelves inside the Mother Lode Lions’ Candy Shack at the corner of Missouri Flat and Pleasant Valley roads are freshly stocked with See’s chocolates, inside a building that bears a new coat of paint, as the Lions celebrate the sweet success of 20 years selling the popular candy to support an arm-long list of local causes.
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“We have sold a million dollars’ worth of See’s candy in that time,” said Maryellen Ware, who frequently volunteers to staff the Candy Shack along with dozens of other club members.
A million dollars.
“Some folks have accused us of being in cahoots with the local dentists,” said Ware, 82, whose personality gives the sweet confections a run for the money.
The candy is sold from the Lions’ shack from October to right after Mother’s Day each year.
“A lot of our customers would rather we didn’t close at all,” said Ware, who serves as chair of the Lions’ candy sales.
It takes some 30 volunteers from among the Mother Lode Lions’ total membership of 72 to staff the See’s candy shack, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during “candy season.”
“Bingo used to be our biggest money-raiser, but the See’s candy now has the title,” said Neil Pfafman, Lions Club secretary, who was on hand with Ware recently in an empty candy shack, which had just been repainted inside and out in preparation for the 20-year celebration that occurred Oct. 12.
Lions Club member Pete Wilkinson offered his services painting the building, just in time for a fresh shipment of enticing See’s chocolates and other temptations that arrived Thursday, Oct. 10.
Pfafman, 74, said such volunteerism as shown by Wilkinson is what the Lions are all about, helping make the community a better place to live.
Ware provided a list of groups and organizations that have benefitted from the candy sales over the last 20 years, filling both sides of a sheet of binder paper.
Among them is the El Dorado County Sports League, which annually conducts cross country finals that draw about 850 kids from local elementary and middle schools to a huge meet at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville. Eight-hundred-and-fifty kids means a lot of trophies are handed out — and that translates into a lot of cash, according to Jim Coate, commissioner of the Sports League.
“For the last 15 years the Mother Lode Lions, along with the El Dorado Hills, Placerville, Somerset and Pioneer Lions, have contributed to the cross country finals,” said Coate. The Lions’ support is greatly appreciated, said Coate, who added that the Mother Lode club always donates the lion’s share to the effort.
“Almost all the elementary and middle schools on the West Slope of the county participate, meaning kids from third to eighth grade, and we give out individual and team awards,” Coate continued. “That costs quite a bit of money. The Lions have been just wonderful.”
Mother Lode Lions’ See’s candy sales also have helped pay for many a trip to the nation’s capital as the funds are used to support education that includes learning about what goes on in Washington, D.C., and for a special robotics competition there.
Local students also benefit from “candy money” that goes toward backpacks and school supplies, a Student Speaker Contest and a Peace Poster Contest.
The money also finds it way toward supporting Union Mine High School’s Leo Club, a service organization of young adults, with some $3,500 in scholarships awarded. Union Mine also is the beneficiary of support for Sober Grad Night and has gained lights for the football field and a lane for the high school swimming pool, all paid for with candy sales.
Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts also get their slice of the candy pie, along with 4-H and Little League.
Mother Lode Lions also use the proceeds from selling See’s candies to support the fight against cancer and diabetes, help those with vision impairment, paraplegic rehabilitation and other charitable efforts.
Even those affected by Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina found a little something to help in their time of need, courtesy of the Lions and See’s.
The list, obviously, is too extensive to mention here, but trust that if you’ve benefitted from local services and organizations, it just might have been thanks to someone enjoying a box of fine chocolates during the holidays — or just because.
See’s Candies officials also have taken note of the brisk sales in Placerville over the years and they were happy to recognize the 20th anniversary.
“See’s Candies congratulates and extends our sincerest thanks to the Mother Lode Lions for their 20 years of fundraising with See’s,” said Lori Bonin, account executive with See’s office in Rancho Cordova. “Through the leadership efforts of (the late) Dewey and Maryellen Ware, and an army of dedicated volunteers, See’s Candies has been made available to a community where See’s does not operate a store.
“Best of all, the monies raised have gone to help a myriad of worthwhile projects in the community. We hope this very beneficial relationship lasts for decades to come. Thanks to all who support the Candy Shack.”
Visit the Mother Lode Lions Candy Shack now through Mother’s Day of 2014 and indulge in the wide array of See’s Candies, including the traditional chocolates along with lollipops and other treats. As the comforting flavor delights your tongue, take delight as well in the fact that you are helping to support dozens upon dozens of worthwhile efforts.
For special orders of candy or for more information call 530-622-8131.