The people in the community may not know exactly how many tens of thousands have been helped by the Brunswick Optimist Club since its inception in 1986, but they genuinely appreciate the dedicated efforts of its 16 very active members.

Optimist Club President Dean Holman said the goal of the club is to help the community; while they focus strongly on bringing out the best in kids, they do not overlook the needs of anyone.

That being said, the members of the club feel more than grateful for the support and cooperation they receive from local community businesses that are always ready with help when the club hosts its annual programs.

The Optimist Club conducts about a dozen specific activities that reach out to all ages. These vital programs promote safety; create healthy outdoor recreational fun; encourage education, recognize academic accomplishments, and provide scholarships through oratorical and essay competitions; assist with school supplies and needs; provide food and gifts at Thanksgiving and Christmas; support family-oriented events such as a pancake breakfast that features visiting with Mickey and Minnie Mouse; and the newest venture, a Festival of Trees during the holidays.

On January 16, the Optimists held a thank you gathering, hosted by Danbury Senior Living, to personally recognize "those friends who always come through so generously for us."

Organizers Norma Lesnak and Liz Baloun individually thanked and praised these selfless friends for their ongoing contributions, and then presented them with certificates of appreciation; the members of the Optimist Club all agreed they could not carry out their mission of service without this community help:

*Drug Mart *KDR Auto

*Center Road Storage *Baskets Galore

*Mel's Sweet Shop *Donutland

*B&B Trophies *Subway

*Tommy's Pizza *Sweet Frog

*Comfort Suites *Firehouse Subs

*Danbury Senior Living *Square "22"

*Liberty Ford *Scene "75"

*Sheetz Gas Station *High Voltage

*Winking Lizard *Home Depot

*Howard Hanna *Family Video

*Encompass the World *Hirt's Flowers

*Italian Village *Sgt. Clean's Car Wash

*Applebee's *Rainforest Car Wash

*Esbi Salon *Southwest General

*Wiant Jewelers *Cozumal

*Edible Arrangements *Longhorn Steakhouse

*Erie Outfitters *Nothing Bundt Cakes

Special thanks, a beautiful arrangement of silk roses, went to Danbury Executive Director Deb Lougheed who generously extends the services of the senior living facility in so many ways; the Optimists meet there (3430 Brunswick Lake Parkway)twice monthly. Also, Danbury hosted the Festival of Trees and gave all the proceeds to the Optimist Club.

Other special recognition went to Baskets Galore, Howard Hanna (accepted by Carri Browder and Richard Roschival), and Mike Sinclair of B&B Trophies. Roschival proudly shared that he won the first Fishing Derby when he was a kid. Liz Baloun's adult daughter Jessica, also present, won the Fishing Derby competition when she was four years old, and again at age 16, when she gave away her prize to someone she felt was deserving.

On February 16, the 27th annual Pancake Breakfast and Kids Fair, the club's biggest yearly fundraiser, will be held at the Brunswick Community Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to noon. Danbury will be providing the pancakes.