Lovells Cheerful Givers Club raising funds for roof
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
An organization which has served as a safety net for Crawford County residents for nearly nine decades is ready to raise the roof.
The Lovells Cheerful Givers Club is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to generate about $3,000 to replace the roof on its historic building.
“We’ve got some soft spots, so what we’re going to do is strip off all of the shingles off, replace the boards, and we’re going to reshingle the whole thing,” said Heide Miller, the president of the Lovells Cheerful Givers Club.
The club earmarked $1,500 for the project, and donation jars have been placed in Lovells area businesses to collect funds.
“We knew it was coming, where you save for a rainy day, and we just added to that,” Miller said.
Community volunteers and members of the Lovells Township Volunteer Fire Department will pitch in the labor to replace the roof.
“We’ve got a lot of guys, who are awesome, and the fire department helps on so many things,” said Miller, who is a member of fire department.
Miller said citizens in the tightknit community step up to help each other such as cutting and staking firewood for heat for a Lovells resident who had surgery and could not do the work himself.
“That’s just the way it’s always been,” Miller said. “If it were hired out to replace the roof, we would be in a pickle, because we would have to cover labor and material.”
The Lovells Cheerful Givers Club, an outgrowth of the Larken Club, started in 1930 with 12 members. Emma Stillwagon was the president, and Lola Papenfus came up with the name for the club.
The ladies were asked by the county nurse to supply layettes, a set of clothing, linens, and sometimes toiletries for new babies in the county, due to the Great Depression and very little money was available. The items for babies were made from men’s white shirts, which were donated. Club member paid dues of 25 cents to purchase items which were needed.
The club’s motto is “Working Together For Our Community.”
In the late 1930s, the club sponsored dances at the township hall. Live music drew a large crowd, and many times there would be 12 squares on the dance floor. Lunch was also served, with Bessie Kellogg working in the kitchen. Performers also presented several productions, and “Ladies of Bangville” was a big hit.
The club’s first community Christmas dinner featured wild rabbit. Later, the dinners were turkey or chicken with all the trimmings. Santa was always there for all of the children in the community.
In 1937, Martha Douglas gave the club the schoolhouse and one acre of land.
The Lovells School House was moved to Lovells in 1906 from a settlement named Judge. The schoolhouse was then leased from the Frederic Rural Agricultural School District to the Lovells Cheerful Givers Club at a cost of $1 for 99 years.
The ladies made an old wood shop into a kitchen. Over the years, many improvements have been made to the building. The walls were panelled, the ceiling lowered, carpet installed in the front entry, and the huge old wood stove was replaced by a gas heater. Some men of the community donated their time and installed a bathroom.
Bingo is the main fundraiser for the club, which started in the late 1940s. Club members also sell quilts.
The club sponsored its first silver tea in 1950. The club also hosted a harvest dinner, which went so well that reservations had to be made.
The club spearheaded a community project to bring a branch library of the Crawford County Library System to the township hall.
The club celebrated its 50th anniversary in August 1980, with a luncheon honoring charter members Cora Gregg, Ruth Caid, and Lorna Nephew.
Over the years, the Lovells Cheerful Givers Club has supported the March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, and the Salvation Army.
Closer to home, the club donates its funds to Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program, the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, River House Shelter, Inc., the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, and the Lovells Township Volunteer Fire Department.
“We keep all of our money here in Crawford County,” Miller said.
Over Memorial Day weekend, the Lovells Cheerful Givers Club holds its annual craft sale, bake sale, and quilt sale.
Bingo is still held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday nights from July 4 through Labor Day.
Lovells Cheerful Givers Club memorabilia is sold in its gift shop.
For Halloween, the club hosts a Trick or Trunk for youth in the community. And Christmas baskets are distributed to homebound residents and needy families along with the Lovells Community Christmas party.
“There are a lot of traditions and we’re just keeping those going,” Miller said.
During the winter months, the club meets at the Lovells Township Hall since the club is not open year round like it was in the past.
“It’s an old schoolhouse, so that’s not much that can be done as far as winterizing,” Miller said.
The Lovells Cheerful Givers Club members look forward to celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2030.
“We’re an organization that’s been around a long time and we’re not going anywhere,” Miller said.