Christmas is the time to help those in need.

The West Penn Lions Club members epitomize the philosophy of helping their fellow man.

During the year, the West Penn Lions are involved in a number of fundraising activities, with the money donated back to the community in a number of ways.

For the Christmas season, the club has been putting together food baskets for needy families.

On Tuesday, the Lions members gathered at the West Penn Township Annex to fill boxes of food for 35 families and individuals in the area that will make the holiday a lot warmer for the recipients.

"That number is up from 26 last year," said Judy Dudley, West Penn Lions member. "You don't always realize how many people are in need."

The baskets were filled with canned goods, cereals, jars of peanut butter and other food items that were put together with the support of Giant Supermarket and donated by the Lions by using funds raised from within the community.

"This really is a community effort," said Dudley.

The West Penn Lions Club was formed in 1948 and has been involved in many worthwhile project through the years, from bringing electicity to the 12 one-room schoolhouses that used to exist in the township to building and maintaining West Penn Community Park, where many of its activities, such as Senior Fun Day and chicken barbecues, are held.

The club is a major contributor to the restoration of the old landmark West Penn train station, located at the junction of Routes 895 and 309, and it annually sponsors the Andreas Halloween Parade.

The many charitable donations the clubs makes would not be possible without the financial support from businesses and individuals in the community. The club conducts one solicitation for donations per year as well as holding Basket Bingos and those chicken barbecues. They also receive unsolicited donations for specific projects.

Each dollar raised from the public must go back to the public, so the Lions will donate to charities such as the American Cancer Society, the D.A.R.E. program, the Boy Scouts, Adult Day Care and to local groups such as the West Penn Fire Company and Penn Mahoning Ambulance, to name a few.

The club currently has 44 members, and even through tough economic times, they live up to the Lions Club motto of "We Serve."