By Jennifer Stultz Editor
Members of the Pratt Lions Club met Aug. 12 at the Barron Theater in Pratt with former youth ministries director and community champion Sheryl White for a special ceremony. Together they celebrated the completion of the first Bags to Benches project for the Pratt Club and the unveiling of a fiberglass bench in memory of the late Jack Ewing, known as Mr. Pratt during his life of service in the Pratt community, according to White.
Last fall, the Pratt Lions Club began collecting plastic bags and other similar packaging materials as part of a larger International Lions Club program. A bag drop box in front of the Pratt Tribune/Barron Theater office at 313 S. Main was offered as a bag collection point.
“It’s just amazing how the community has stepped up and helped us with this program,” said Andy Lee, president of the Pratt Lions Club. “We have been very grateful for the continued support as we have worked together to keep these types of plastics out of the landfill and into something useful. We could not have accomplished so much in the time available without this support. It was
Pratt Lions Club officers (clockwise from top left) Harold Stultz, treasurer; Andy Lee, President; Past President Denis Rasmussen and community activist Sheryl White gathered at the Barron Theater on Friday to dedicate a special Bags to Benches project in honor of Jack Ewing and celebrate the community’s support for the successful fundraising effort. of plastic bags.
All of the plastics collected by Pratt Lions Club members were weighed and then sent to a company that recycled them into a fiberglass bench, like the one now inside the Barron Theatre. An official placement will be decided and a nameplate will be added to honor the memory of Jack Ewing who was a long time and exemplary member of the Pratt Lions Club, as well as a great friend of the people of Pratt, including Sheryl White. “I just know Jack is smiling at us right now,” White said. “He would have approved of this whole idea so much. He loved projects that brought people together, he loved youth, he loved the Barron Theatre. He was so excited for Youth Core to have the chance to buy the Barron Theater, but he passed away in 2015 just as we were launching this project. But he also loved movies, so placing this bench here in his honor is just perfect.
The Pratt Lions Club picked up 500 pounds of plastic, enough to fill a big tractor-trailer, to meet the goal of a full bench. It took six months to collect that many, the exact time frame set by the company that turns the bags into benches for each collection period. Only one bench per club, per semester is allowed.
For White, the Friday dedication was a noted transition point as she accepted a pastoral leadership position in Alva, Oklahoma and is soon leaving Pratt. His work with Youth Core Ministries, the Barron Theatre, stuffing the plastic bag box and bringing many others together to collect plastic bags for a bench in memory of Ewing will not be forgotten and was greatly appreciated.