The Saturday morning Chocolate Wheel run by local Lions Clubs is a Penrith institution, and it’s reached an incredible milestone – 30 years.
Men and women from the local Lions Clubs of Cambridge Park, Emu Plains, Penrith and Winmalee run the Chocolate Wheel in Westfield Penrith every weekend.
Over time the Chocolate Wheel has become a fixture of the shopping centre with shoppers knowing the iconic cry of ‘watch your numbers’ as the men and women in the gold and yellow shirts sell their tickets.
The Lions Club prides itself on its locally sourced prizes that include meat, chicken, fruit and vegetables, chemist products, donuts and Lowes vouchers.
Barry Leavett-Brown, who is part of the Penrith Lions Club and has been with the Lions Club organisation for over 35 years, said the prizes for the Chocolate Wheel have primarily become vouchers over time.
“We have more or less started to give out the vouchers now for winners on the Wheel which is a really good thing because they are able to use it when they want – they have two weeks to claim their prize,” Mr Leavett-Brown said.
The management of the Chocolate Wheel is also recognising the constant support of Westfield Penrith as well as the retailers who have provided high quality merchandise over the years and now, vouchers as prizes.
Not left out of the recognitions are the public who the Lions Club say have consistently supported the club by buying thousands of tickets over the years.
The sales from the Chocolate Wheel have helped the Lions Club reach a major milestone of over $950,000 raised for the local community.
“It’s been very handy and we are really thankful,” Mr Leavett-Brown said.
“The good thing about it is all that money goes back into different charities. The money raised is split between each club based on how much man-power you’ve put in.”
The clubs then in turn provide this money as well as their help to other local projects and causes including Nepean Hospital’s Neonatal Unit, Children’s Ward and the Mental Health Unit, the life experience project Sailability at Penrith Lakes, the work carried out for the Mamre House project at St Marys, the Glenmore Park Early Childhood Centre, the Penrith Community Kitchen, and the Nepean Prostate Cancer Support Group.
Numerous valuable student awards for various local primary and high schools are also handed out from the clubs as well as funding for various wheelchairs and specialist Hart Walker equipment.
“Being able to help children is a big thing,” Mr Leavett-Brown said.
“When it comes to who you donate to, children do have a premier position in the allocation of the funds as they have a lot longer to live than some of us older people but that doesn’t mean it’s just children who receive our help.
“Anybody with a medical or physical problem can come to us.”
So, next time you see the Lions crew at Westfield on a Saturday morning, stop by and purchase a ticket.
The Lions Clubs are also looking for new members who would like to contribute something back to the community. They encourage any interested residents to contact their local club.
– Jade Aliprandi