Lions' annual drive kicks off

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

After sending a recording to officials at Walt Disney World, the Amsterdam High School chorus was accepted to perform there in April. The students were excited to make the trip until the price tag set in.

"It's over $800 per student," Pat Valiente, the choral instructor, said. "I would hate for someone not to be able to go just because of finances."

The group sent out a citywide plea asking for donations and Amsterdam's local Lions Club chapter responded.

"They said if you come down here and help us with our fundraiser, we'll give you a check," Valiente said.

The club offered $500 to help defray the students' costs.

"That's the life of a Lion," Robert Montanaro, 93, a Lion of more than 50 years, said.

A handful of chorus members, Valiente and the six other Lions, and Amsterdam Housing Authority residents met at the facility's community room Friday night to help staple envelopes to letters for the Lions' annual fundraiser. A letter will be included in today's issue of The Recorder for those who want to help the cause.

The driving force behind the Lions Club is to benefit those with vision and hearing trouble. Their annual fundraiser collects money to "help others see the world better through the purchase of new eyeglasses and better eyes." It also helps fund hearing aids.

Montanaro said they have a group of eight local women they help out. The list used to be larger years ago -- as was the size of Lions Club with 63 members in 1973 -- before Medicaid and Medicare began to cover the costs for people.

Lions President Anthony Vecchio said the club is all about helping people and he would love do whatever he can to help the students get to Disney, especially because for a lot of them, it may be their first and only time going.

"There's going to be a lot of firsts," Valiente said. "A lot of these kids haven't even been outside the state, or the Capital District area. Some of them have never been on a plane. Some of them, it's small things like they've never seen a palm tree."

The group, about 100 students and parents, will spend four days in Florida, reserving one day for sightseeing and another for performing a 30-minute set. Valiente said they'll be performing competition-level songs, some in foreign languages, some representing American jazz.

To sponsor a child, or participate in the chorus' poinsettia sale, contact Valiente at 843-4932, Ext. 1129.