On May 10, 1923, the International Association of Lions Clubs Granted a Charter to the Lions Club of El Paso containing the names of 52 original members. Two and 1/2 months later, on August 19, 1923, a formal presentation was made by Lions Int’l Vice President W.J. Higgins to the then 117 members of the Club, all of whom were acknowledged as charter members. Under the leadership of the Club’s first President, Gowan Jones, these new Lions undertook their first project, raising funds to help build a $500,000 Mill to process El Paso Valley cotton for shipment throughout the United States.
Now, after 87 Presidents, 5 District Governors, over 2500 members, more than 4000 regularly scheduled meetings, and having helped to sponsor six new Lions Clubs currently inexistence, our Club is celebrating its 85th Anniversary. In memory of those Lions who have served and to those who currently state, “We Serve”, our Club now proudly acknowledges the dedication of our members throughout its history.
One of the first public service projects for the Lions Club of El Paso was the annual canned goods party, where children from throughout the area were invited to the Plaza Theater and attendees received candy, goodies, door prizes and a movie, all for the price of a can of food. During the tenure of this project, the Club collected & distributed tons of food to the less fortunate in our city.
Upon Chartering the Fabens Lions Club in 1937, the Lions Club of El Paso became the El Paso Downtown Lions Club. In 1939, our Club, joining with other Civic Clubs in El Paso, helped officially open the Annual Sun Carnival activities, mainly by overseeing the Sun Carnival Parade and our support & participation in the Parade has continued to the present. El Paso Downtown Lions Club is the only organization in El Paso that has built and entered a float every year since the parade began.
In 1941, the Downtown Lions helped sponsor the Ysleta Lions Club and during this period, though many of our Lions departed for Active Military Service, we continued as vigorously as ever. As part of the World War II effort, members bought $50 worth of Defense Stamps at each weekly meeting and our participation in that one project helped to raise more than $100,000 worth of Stamps & War Bonds sold. Other war time projects included the gathering of 365,000 pounds of scrap rubber, entertaining enlisted men from Ft. Bliss at our meetings, operating football concession stands to sponsor bingo parties for disabled Veterans at William Beaumont Hospital, and the paying for phone calls for Military members to call their families.