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Thousands flocked to the Red River Valley Fairgrounds this weekend for pancakes served up by the Kiwanis Club of Paris for the 63rd year in a row.
The first event was held in 1951, serving 350 people and raising $235. Since then, Pancake Days has become a three-day event that raises roughly $50,000 a year. It starts Thursday with children coming from local schools, 1,600 in all. Friday, Kiwanis served about 3,044 hungry people. By 11 a.m. Saturday, 1,485 had come through the doors.
And it is an all-you-can-eat affair for just $6. The record so far is 22 pancakes for a single person.
That equals a lot of food: 2,400 pounds of pancake batter that has to be stirred with an industrial mixer, 2,304 pounds of sausage, 23,500 ounces of syrup, 240 gallons of milk, 285 gallons of juice, more than 3,500 cups of coffee and 27,000 ounces of soda. Those dining on pancakes clean up with 24,000 napkins.
“Our service delivery is all done through trained volunteers,” John Davis, the chapter’s executive director, said at a “Meet-N-Greet” open house Tuesday. “If we don’t have enough volunteers, we have to call people from the Red River County teams or the Hunt County teams.”
That was exactly what happened when the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at Lamar Avenue Church of Christ during December’s ice storms and could not find enough local people to help staff the facility.
In another situation, a large apartment fire on Clarksville a few years ago left 50 units closed and residents with nowhere to go. The chapter helped with immediate assistance, shelter, feeding, communications, finding local partners to help and returning home. Such responses are part of the Red Cross mission.
“We’re going to respond, but we need to respond with Lamar County folks. It cuts down on time,” Davis said. “We’re heavily resourced to respond to these events. We just need the human resources.”
The chapter has about half a dozen disaster response volunteers and another half dozen or so who work with armed forces programs. Davis said he would like to see 10 times that.
The “Meet-N-Greet” potluck dinner was held in the Red Cross commissary at Camp Maxey. It was the first in a planned series of quarterly breakfast and dinner gatherings designed to bolster volunteer recruitment for the Lamar County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The organization needs volunteers for both armed forces services and disaster response, Davis said. They also need first aid and CPR instructors.
“They’ve been invaluable during a lot of the crises we’ve had in the last few years, going back all the way to the tornado,” said Stephen Gerrald, president of the United Way board of directors. “They make sure our community is cared for and our troops are cared for. That’s very important for us.”
The Red Cross has scheduled a class for two-year adult and pediatric first aid/CPR/AED certification March 22. The training costs $110, but full scholarships are available so that the training is free. To enroll, visit redcross.org/takeaclass or call 1-800-733-2767 and use the coupon code PREPAREPARIS1214.
For more information about volunteering with the American Red Cross, contact Volunteer Coordinator Sherry Maxwell at 903-249-9901.
The Kiwanis Club of Paris was started in 1951 and originally had 58 club members. The first Pancake Days raised $235 and served 350.
The club now has 130 members and last year served 8,212. To do that it takes 2,400 lbs. of pancake mix, 23,500 ounces of syrup, 2,304 lbs. of sausage, 240 gallons of milk, 285 gallons juice, 19,000+ butter servings, 3-4 thousand cups coffee, 27,000 oz. soft drinks , 96 lbs lard, 24,000 napkins, 1000+ man hours of hard work.
Pancake Days are March 7th and 8th and tickets are $6 in advance, $7 at the door. Tickets available at Lamar National Bank.
This is an opportunity to hear from seasoned Lamar County disaster volunteers and staff about how you can become involved with the Lamar County disaster preparedness and relief efforts as a volunteer, donor or board member.
This event is open to the public, but they do ask everyone to bring a covered dish and to rsvp Sherry Maxwell at 903.737.4390 x 1956 or Sherry.email@example.com.
The funds help LCHRC deliver more than 500 meals a day through its Meals on Wheels program or 120,000 a year.
“This might be the only contact these people have during the day and the only meal,” said Lisa Spann, board treasurer.
Each meal costs about $6, she said. Government funding covers $4.95, leaving $160,000 a year to be raised locally.
“That does not include the individuals and senior citizens who are on a waiting list,” Spann said. “Keep your focus on the cause.”
A live auction raised more than $14,000, including the traditional “king cake” that sold for $1,400. The goal each year is to have it bring at least $1,200 — the amount it takes to feed a person for one year.
More funds were raised through a silent auction and donations for personalized photographs.