The Ashcroft and District Lions Club is all smiles, after its volunteers raised more than $4,800 to benefit three local organizations during this year’s Tim Hortons Smile Cookies campaign.
Between Sept. 14 and 20, members of the Lions club greeted people outside the Timmie’s at the Travel Centre on Cornwall Road, encouraging them to purchase Smile Cookies. One hundred per cent of the proceeds raised from the sale of each $1 cookie was earmarked for local causes, and club president Sue Peters says that given COVID-19 and the limitations of having to be outside, rather than in the store, the amount raised was “quite surprising”.
“The last couple of days were a little chilly, but we had a tent, took blankets, and dressed warm, so I think we got a sympathy vote,” she says with a laugh.
In past years the Lions have been able to sell cookies direct to customers, but this year they sold tickets which could be redeemed for cookies.
“The problem with being outside was that it was confusing for some people, who thought they had to buy the cookies from us,” says Peters. “It was Damian [Couture, Tim Hortons manager] who had the idea about doing the tickets, because the first day they had a few people who went in and said they’d paid outside.
“We had some people buy tickets from us and then leave the tickets with us for someone else, like kids whose parents would let them have a cookie. And some people just wanted to donate money.”
Couture says that he thinks things went pretty well this year.
“It wasn’t as crazy as last year [when the Lions raised more than $6,000 to help a local student purchase new hearing aids], but that was to be expected with COVID-19. I’m very impressed with the turnout we had considering the circumstances.
“The concern was that we wouldn’t have as many people on the road with COVID-19, but we had a lot of support from the community. People came out and bought a dozen at a time.”
The biggest single purchase was 32 dozen cookies to Ashcroft Terminal, and Peters says that the Royal Bank, Interior Savings, and Arrow Transport were three of the other local businesses that supported them again. There was a little take up on a new service — delivery to local businesses — and Couture says they have a few plans for next year.
“Depending on how things go we’d like to try some new ideas, incorporate different things. I had discussions with other owners about what works and what doesn’t because of COVID-19.”
Even though this year’s total of $4,855 does not match last year, Couture says that the sales were still very, very strong.
“We were in the top 10 for B.C., at number seven, and some larger centres had the ability to deliver through DoorDash and Skip the Dishes, which we couldn’t do.”
Peters notes that last year was “exceptional” because of the project they chose to raise funds for.
“People were empathetic to the cause, which supported a child, so we did raise more money last year, but I think the response itself was somewhat to do with the Lions club: the work we do and the public face we have across the country and through the world. We’re known for doing good works in communities, and having our banner out there helped.”
This year the Lions have decided to share the funds raised between three local organizations: The Equality Project, the Elizabeth Fry Society Food Bank, and the Christmas Hampers. The club donated another $395 to the total so that each group will receive $1,750.
“It was a COVID-19-based decision,” says Peters. “We support all those entities anyway, but we know this year is more challenging for them than usual, so that’s why the choice was made to go with them.
“The Lions are very appreciative of our local Tim Hortons and the support that they give us, which really helps us. It’s a great opportunity because we’re doing things for the community, but we also get our faces out there.”
Couture, in turn, appreciates what the Lions do for the community.
“They had to sit in rain and cold, but they toughed it out. We have a very good partnership with the Lions. Their volunteers always come out and work with us, and they’re great.
“We’re very happy with where things ended up this year, with three different groups benefiting. They’ve all been hit very hard, so this makes a big difference. I know that money is much needed by all three groups.”