When the world’s largest service organization comes together with one of the United States’ largest health benefits companies, good things are bound to happen. For the past five years, Lions across the U.S. have partnered with Anthem Inc. employees to serve those in need through hands-on volunteer projects. Lions-Anthem Volunteer Days (AVD) builds on Lions’ long history of service and Anthem’s year-round commitment to community and wellness.

“Our five-year partnership with the Anthem Foundation has been a win-win for Lions and the local communities they serve,” says Lions Executive Administrator Frank Moore. “The drive and enthusiasm of Anthem volunteers enhances Lions ability to tackle humanitarian needs, one service project at a time. This is smart partnering -- together our Lions and Anthem volunteers are lending a hand to lift up the most vulnerable populations across the US,” he says.

Lions and Anthem volunteers get ready to make a difference.

Every fall, the Lions-Anthem Volunteer Days kick off a 6-week community service program that takes place across the United States with support from an annual grant awarded by the Anthem Foundation. Since the partnership began in 2015, AVD has expanded from 11 to 26 markets, allowing Lions to grow visibility in their communities and gain access to grants that support local needs.

“The Lions-Anthem Volunteer Days is now a fall tradition,” says Anthem Foundation’s Janice Hutchings Wilson. “It’s that one time of the year when everyone gets excited to volunteer with their fellow employees and local Lions to make a difference in our communities. The collective impact we have made together is truly remarkable,” she says.

The 2019 partnership brought together Anthem volunteers and Lions in 31 cities across 20 states. Nearly 200 local Lions club members joined more than 1,600 Anthem volunteers in a total of 69 service projects that promoted happier, healthier communities. “It has been a true pleasure to work with such talented Anthem volunteers” says Past District Governor Ann Ragland (District 24-I).

The Anthem Foundation has provided 6 service grants to the Varina Lions Club over the past five years, supporting projects that range from hunger alleviation to assembling disaster preparedness kits for seniors. “Like Lions, the Anthem volunteers truly have servant hearts,” says Ragland.

Service projects in 2019 focused on hunger alleviation. More than 37 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including more than 11 million children. Whether sorting food at food banks, packing backpacks of food for students, or serving meals to the homeless, Anthem and Lions have collectively moved nearly one million pounds of food during their five-year partnership.

Lion Virginia Lamb of the Grand Prairie Host Lions Club in Texas has participated in AVD for the past 2 years. “Parts of Grand Prairie have been labeled as food deserts due to limited access to grocery stores,” she says. “We have several churchrun food pantries, but they are small and have little to no fresh food. Anthem’s support allows us to expand our service impact around hunger and other priority community needs by providing both funding and enthusiastic volunteers. During our first year of partnership we were painting a domestic violence shelter when the electricity went out. Anthem Volunteers didn’t think anything of it and continued to paint by cell phone flashlight. I thought no one would come back for another project, but they did – and returned the next year too – in such good spirits!”

Grant support from the Anthem Foundation to LCIF also spurs year-round, Lion- and community-led humanitarian and capacity building initiatives through the Lions- Anthem Foundation Healthy Heroes initiative. Aiming to improve the health of communities across the country, the Healthy Heroes initiative awards grants to Lions clubs and districts with programs that support improved health outcomes. The goal is to build up local health and wellness capacities through projects like the establishment of accessible playgrounds or upgrades to critical clinics, hospitals, and community centers.

Since 2015, Lions-Anthem Volunteer Days have contributed nearly 20,000 hours of community service, benefitting more than 1.6 million people with improved health and wellness.

U.S.-based Lions Clubs interested in hosting projects for the 2020 Lions-Anthem Volunteer Days season are encouraged to contact lionsanthem@lionsclubs.org.