Just what was needed . . . Victims of the devastating underwater eruption in Tonga in 2022 unpack goods sent shortly afterwards by the Cromwell Lions Club. The club’s efforts won an international service award. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
World-class kindness was rewarded in Cromwell this week.
Cromwell Lions Club immediate pastpresident Pete Moen said the work that earned the Lions international Kindness Matters service award was just what they did.
‘‘We’re just doing what we’re supposed to do.’’
Lions New Zealand chairwoman of service Wendy Goodwin said while the Lions motto was ‘‘we serve’’, the Cromwell Lake Dunstan Lions’ efforts to help people in Tonga following an underwater volcano eruption last year was one of just 30 projects from 49,000 clubs worldwide chosen for the Kindness Matters award.
‘‘It’s a big deal. It might be the only club in New Zealand in 10 years to get it.’’
Mr Moen said three Tongan families living in Cromwell asked the club for help to fill a 6m container with food and essential items for family and friends living in the outer islands, which had been cut off following the devastating eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai underwater volcano on January 15 last year.
The club had to get a container and fill it before coordinating road transport and shipping, with just five weeks between the first meeting and getting the container on a ship out of Christchurch.
‘‘We had the people, the contacts and the resources to put it all together and make it happen.
With assistance from Lions clubs in Clyde and Queenstown, they set about mobilising people, sourcing everything from free advertising for the project to money and goods from local businesses and a street appeal for food and goods.
One of the first things the Lions did was ask what was needed to make sure they only sent useful things.
Large pots for communal cooking rather than small ones was one of the requests.
Ultimately, so much was given the excess was donated to a local foodbank, he said.
As well as big projects, such as the award-winning one, Lions had many ongoing projects running all year round.
They collect caps from wine bottles and cans, selling the aluminium and donating the money to their Kidney Kids charity. They also collected redundant spectacles, cleaned them up and sent them to the Pacific Islands, with more than 6000 pairs already donated. Old or foreign coins and banknotes were also collected and the proceeds from their sale donated to charities.
While there was plenty of work to be done sorting and cleaning, it was carried out in a social setting and everyone had a laugh while doing it, Mr Moen said.
Each of the 82 Cromwell Lake Dunstan Lions members was presented with a distinctive medal by Mrs Goodwin at a ceremony on Tuesday evening.
The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai eruption was the largest recorded in more than 100 years and triggered tsunami waves of up to 15m. Ashfall covered an area of at least 5sq km. Niwa scientists discovered that almost 10km3 of seafloor was displaced — the equivalent to 2.6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.