May 16 to 21 is Royal Purple Week across Canada, and Ashcroft-Cache Creek Royal Purple Lodge #263 has a new lease on life just in time to celebrate.
Royal Purple began in Canada in 1914, with a lodge in Vancouver, and was originally the female auxiliary of the Elks of Canada. In 2014 the order seceded from the Elks and became the Canadian Royal Purple Society, which admits women and men over the age of 16 as members.
Lodge #263 has been active in the area for 60 years, and one member — Lil Munro — has been part of it the entire time. “It used to be very large, with about two dozen members, but that dropped to four just before the pandemic,” says president Marvene Layte, who is also 2nd vice-president of Royal Purple B.C. (and will be vice-president as of the end of May). “Because of COVID they weren’t able to hold their regular Bingos, and they had decided to close the lodge.”
Layte moved to the area in September 2020, and in 2021 tried to bring the lodge back, but COVID prevented it. Nothing daunted, she tried again in early 2022, and was successful, albeit with a name change. “It used to be Ashcroft Royal Purple, but now it’s Ashcroft-Cache Creek, as we wanted a face in both communities. We’re up to 10 members: half of them have been here for a long time, and half are newcomers.”
The main focus of Royal Purple is fundraising for children and for community organizations. Every year the Ashcroft-Cache Creek lodge gives two $500 bursaries to graduating students at Desert Sands Community School, and they regularly donate funds to the Ashcroft and Cache Creek fire departments.
“Each year we decide who to donate to, and then begin fundraising,” explains Layte. For some time their only fundraiser has been a monthly Bingo night, which takes place on the third Sunday of each month at the Cache Creek Community Hall (doors open at 6 p.m., and Bingo starts at 6:30 p.m.).
The lodge meets twice a month, at 1 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room of the Cache Creek hall on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.
“The first meeting of the month has a social aspect,” says Layte. “We go out for a meal and talk about the events for the next month and what we want to do. The second meeting is an in-house business meeting, which is about finances and finalizing what has to get done.”
Layte adds that the lodge is not doing as much as they normally would as they come back together after COVID. However, the members have adopted one of the planters in Cache Creek, which they’ll look after over the summer, and are planning a Christmas bazaar later in the year.
The members will also be marking Purple Thursday on Oct. 20. It’s an annual campaign that takes place on the third Thursday in October, and which aims to raise awareness about inter-personal violence.
“We’ll be painting the village purple and putting up balloons and posters, and are planning some events to help people understand the intersection between brain injury and inter-personal violence. We don’t have any women’s shelters locally, so we’ll be making up bags filled with personal items to donate to the shelter in Lillooet.”
Layte adds that the lodge is hoping to collaborate with the community to fill the bags. “Starting after June 1 we’ll be approaching local businesses, and we’re planning major events for the next three years to keep this moving along. It’s a very important initiative.”
The lodge also plans to start the “Walk Around the Block” initiative beginning next year. “It’s been going for 20 years to benefit the B.C. Hearing Resource Centre, where children with hearing needs go to receive hearing aids and instruction about them.”
Layte says that the lodge welcomes new members. “The expectation is that you’ll help fundraise, or assist with another group. We’ll be helping Rotary with their beer garden at Graffiti Days.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the lodge and its activities can call Layte at (250) 612-2031. You can also visit Ashcroft-Cache Creek Royal Purple Lodge on Facebook.