Volunteers are the heart of any community, but they still need money to carry out their plans.
Thank goodness for service groups like the Lions Club, who spend much of their volunteer efforts raising money – for their own plans and for others.
The first Lions Club was established in the U.S. in 1917, arriving in Canada in 1920.
The Ashcroft & District Lions Club was formed in 1951, and the first meetings were held in the Sands Hotel – long since burned down.
Nick Lebedoff joined the club in 2006 and became a member in 2007.
“They were short a bingo caller and heard that I’d called bingos,” he said. “It took them a year to talk me into it!”
He said after calling a few more bingos for the club he understood more about what they stood for and was happy to become a member.
Moe Girard joined in 2001. He recalls that he was new to Ashcroft and was attending his first Fall Fair where the Lions had a table. He walked up to the table and said he’d like to join the club.
Ken Munro is the longest serving member in Ashcroft at 35 years. He claims it’s too long ago to remember!
Gordon Daily, the current president, joined the club in 1998. He says he really likes their motto: “We serve”.
“They look after the communities,” he said. “They raise money and put it back into the communities.”
The Lions hold several fundraisers throughout the year, including regular bingos, pancake breakfasts, an annual golf tournament, the annual Skips Charity Run and more.
Daily said the project he most enjoyed working on was the donation of new tables and chairs for the Cache Creek Community Hall. The club fundraised and obtained a gaming grant to pay for them.
Ernie Kristoff joined the Prince Rupert Lions in 1980 for something to do but soon realized that it was a very worthy organization.
He moved to Cache Creek in 2004 and met Lions member Orval Trueman at a Fly In. He joined the local club right away.
“We raise an amazing amount of money that we put back into the community,” said Kristoff.
In 2012 the club donated $3,000 to the Ashcroft Fire Dept. for a thermal imaging camera, $1,800 to the curling club for a mobile defibrillator and $1,600 for a hearing aid for a local child.
In 2014 they sponsored the Better at Home program for seniors and donated $1,000 for start up costs. They also donated $2,300 to the Ashcroft Sr. Girls soccer team for new jerseys.
Orval Trueman remembers the club’s efforts in raising $40,000 in less than a year in 2004 to purchase the Jaws of Life for Ashcroft Fire Dept. as “very rewarding”.
Regular donations are also made to things like the Christmas Hampers, the Grads and bursaries.
And, of course, they still collect eye glasses and hearing aids. They’re sent off for repairs and given to people who need them. Local collection boxes include the Legion, Senior’s Centre, both thrift stores and the Loon Lake Community Hall.
“Serving” is a busy job, but not without its own rewards. Contact a Lions member (look for the yellow vest) if you’d like to know more about the Ashcroft & Distriction Lions Club.