Memorial Day marks the first holiday of the year that the Adel Lions Club, along with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, put out flags around the town. Flags are placed around Adel, and recently, De Soto communities, on Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Veterans Day.

“The Boy Scouts have been helping for the last five or six years and the Girl Scouts for the last two or three years,” Adel Lions Club president, Dr. Pat Rohret said. “This time we actually also have a family that wanted to help and I believe that they are doing a route.”

Last year, the Lions Club wrote a $6,000 check to the Boy Scouts and a $1,000 check to the Girl Scouts for helping with the flag project.

“The leaders have told us in the past that they are able to send each scout to a major scout camp each year,” Rohret said.

The original plan was to start loading flags at 5:50 a.m. Saturday, May 23 in a building across from Patrick’s Restaurant. There was a rain delay, which forced the start of the project to be closer to 7 a.m. Social distancing was part of the planning this year.

“[We have] pick up times so that we can keep spacing and the scouts will ride in the back of the vehicles to give spacing on the routes,” Rohret said. “Some Lions members will do routes by themselves.”

The flags will be up Saturday through Monday, May 25. Take down times may vary due to possible weather complications.

“This is the first time that we are leaving them out for three days and we will evaluate how that goes before we try it again,” Rohret said. “It helps that this holiday is on a Monday and that gives us this option. Plus, the scouts are not in school now.”

The flag project has been going on for more than 15 years. This year, they placed over 1,600 flags in community member’s yards and in the front of businesses.

“The first year we put out 300 flags or so and it has steadily grown each year, Rohret said. “This year alone, we are putting up 275 new flags.”

Rohret shared that Lion Josh Shull and his wife Lion Kelly Shull spend many hours coordinating the entire project. They print out each route, maintain the maps of where each flag belongs, create and maintain the website and keep track of the customers who have requested and paid for the flags.

“The flag locations get overgrown by grass, plastic tubes get run over and pushed so deep that they cannot be found, and some get removed when there is construction on the street or property,” Rohret said.

Each Lion is responsible for locating the flag sites before the date to install the flags on their route.

“Putting the flags in the plastic pipe is simple,” he said.

The flag project is a fundraising event for the Lions Club. It enables them to raise funds for multiple community projects.

“Some of the funds are used to support the Lions state and international projects,” he said. “None of the funds are used for the Lions’ dues.”

The state project that they are most involved with is, KidSight. This is a project where the members go to daycares and preschools with a special $10,000 camera to take a picture of each child’s eyes. The pictures are sent digitally to the University of Iowa Hospital for evaluation by the specialists. A report is then sent to the child regarding their eyes. Some children are then referred to an eye doctor for a follow-up.

“This program is required by the state of Iowa for each student before entering kindergarten,” he said. “Problems found at this time can get the child treated and cured if caught before the age of six years!”

The Lions Club does this service for free. They currently do this in Adel, De Soto, Van Meter and some in the Waukee schools.

To sign up for the flag project, visit Payments of $25 per year may be done online. There will be a reminder every year.

“We are planning on making the payments automatic for the online customers for their convenience next year,” Rohret said.

They also send out a flyer with the water bill, but those need to be filled out by hand. People may sign up for the flag project at any time, but the fee will remain $25.

“The people love having the flags put up! It is a win, win, win, win!” he said. “The customers don’t have to do anything, they have pride in their country and flag, the town looks great, and the money does so much for the community.”