The Ashcroft and District Lions Club wants to make people smile, while they raise funds for a local cause.
For the third time in four years, the Lions will be taking part in the annual Tim Horton’s “Smile Cookies” campaign, and will be based at the Timmie’s at the Esso Travel Centre on Highway 1 near Ashcroft, encouraging people to purchase Smile cookies. The campaign runs from Sept. 14 to 20, and the cookies cost $1 each, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to a great cause in the area served by the Ashcroft Lions and the Desert Mesa Lions Club, which helps out.
“It’s the second year in a row that we’ve done the Smile Cookies campaign, and the third year altogether,” says Sue Peters, president of the Ashcroft and District Lions, which serves Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, and the Bonaparte and Ashcroft Bands. The club raised money for the South Cariboo Minor Hockey Association in 2017, and in 2019 were back to raise funds to purchase new hearing aids for Robert Belin, as the then 13-year-old Ashcroft resident had outgrown his previous set (which had been purchased for him by the Lions when he was six).
Last year’s Smile Cookie fundraising was so successful that the Lions were not only able to purchase new hearing aids for Belin, they were able to put aside $2,000 for a future set of hearing aids when Belin turns 18, and donate $2,100 to the local Sea Cadets, of which Belin is a member. Peters says that the club has yet to determine who this year’s recipient will be.
“We’re still working on that. We had a plan, but it fell through. The money raised will come to the Lions, and we’ll see how much we have. Whatever it is will benefit the community in some way.”
In the past the club has donated funds raised to organizations such as the RIH Foundation, the Canadian Diabetes Foundation, and BC Children’s Hospital, which are not based in the community but which benefit local residents. Among the local groups they donate to are Better At Home, the Ashcroft and Cache Creek fire departments, the Food Bank, the Legion, minor soccer, and the 4-H Club.
Because of COVID-19 they have decided to keep all funds raised during the Smile Cookies campaign local.
“We know that the Food Bank is struggling, and The Equality Project, and the Christmas Hamper program. Lions International mandates that all money raised in the community must be used to benefit that community.”
“We realized that COVID-19 has been very hard on some of our less fortunate residents, and we feel that’s where our focus should be. Helping those in our community should be our priority, and it will be based on need. We want to wait until we see how much money we have. The more we receive the more we can benefit the community.”
She adds that the Lions are not allowed to use any of the funds for administration. “One hundred per cent of what we raise in the community goes back to the community.”
The plan is for at least one member of the Lions Club to be at Tim Horton’s between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day of the campaign. In the past they were able to greet people inside the building, but because of COVID-19 regulations only 12 non-staff members are allowed in the Tim Horton’s and attached convenience store at a time.
“The Lions will be outside unless the weather gets absolutely horrible,” says Tim Horton’s manager Damian Couture. “We’re making accommodations for them to be outside, but we have a backup plan if they need to come inside because of extreme weather.”
He adds that as far as he knows, the plan was always for the Smile Cookies campaign to go ahead this year.
“Camp Day in June was pushed back to August. We didn’t know if the Smile Cookies campaign would be on schedule, but nothing was going to stop it.”
While there is no seating inside the store because of space restrictions, Couture says that people can walk up and order Smile Cookies at the counter, as well as at the drive-thru. Peters says that the Lions will have a tent outside, and will figure out logistics over the first couple of days.
“We’ll be there promoting Smile Cookies. If you’re approached by someone in a lovely yellow vest they’re not trying to harass you; they want you to buy some cookies.”
In 2019 the campaign received great support from the business communities in Cache Creek and Ashcroft.
“We dropped off a letter with all businesses, and in it we suggested challenges, such as delivering cookies to another business and challenging them to pay it forward,” says Peters. “There are lots of ways to do it.”
Last year Home Hardware bought 15 dozen cookies, and Interior Savings, Royal Bank, Quality Glass, Kal Tire, Arrow, and the fire departments in Ashcroft and Cache Creek were among the businesses and organizations that purchased dozens of cookies.
And it was not just businesses that stepped up. One man from the Lower Mainland who was passing through purchased six dozen cookies, then asked the Lions if they wanted some: “I have no idea what I’ll do with these, but you guys have such great heart.”
Peters says that large orders should be placed 24 hours in advance, so that there is time to make enough cookies, and Couture seconds this: “We love it when people give us a heads up.” Orders can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and should state the desired pick-up day and time.
Couture adds that this year, in addition to the usual pick-up service, they will be offering daily delivery of cookies to businesses in Cache Creek and Ashcroft.
“For a donation of $10 [all of which goes to the Lions] we can deliver cookies to businesses only, once per day, if you want to give a Smile-o-Gram.” Asked if that is an official name, Couture says “I just made it up, but I like it. You can send your favourite business something by coming into the store for a delivery pre-order. Come in and pay today and we’ll deliver tomorrow.”