There will be no Caddy Shack Strip-a-thon this year.
One of the last remaining strip clubs in the province has shut its doors, putting an end to the annual fundraiser that was the largest single-handed contributor to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society for the past quarter century.
The club was shuttered in the third week of August, and co-owner of the business, Yvan Charette, doesn’t yet know if it will be a permanent closure or not.
“I can’t say if it will be permanent or not. We did it on our own volition,” said Charette, adding that he and his business partner felt, given the current COVID-19 safety guidelines, they could not safely control the environment in the strip club, as well as in their other restaurants.
“We thought it was responsible to bring that to an end,” he said.
“I don’t see COVID going anywhere.”
Since the inaugural event in 1994, the strip-a-thon has raised around $300,000 for the Christmas Hamper Society.
In 2016 the event set a record when patrons raised $37,500 for the charity in honour of Tom Cameron, a long-time volunteer with the hamper society who passed away from leukemia just weeks after the 2015 Strip-a-thon, that raised $26,670.
However, Lorraine Bates, chair of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, is not concerned about the loss of the Strip-a-thon donation.
Charette told her he will still raise money for the charity this year. And donations have been pouring in since the Sept. 22 break-in at the society office where thieves got away with a safe containing around $10,000 in gift cards destined for children in need this year, along with a computer, external hard drives, power tools and a first aid kit.
The challenge this year is keeping everyone – clients and volunteers – medically safe during the ongoing pandemic, noted Bates.
And, she said, they have always had a slush fund because, as a non-profit organization, you have to be responsible.
“You always have to have something in your pocket because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Bates.
If the Caddy Shack is closed for good and the society is unable to “beef up” donations, she added, then they will simply have to adjust.
Something will have to give, Bates said.
“Maybe the kids have to get $50 or maybe the food gift certificate is less, but something has to give,” said Bates.
That will not change the fact that everybody will be taken care of, she added.
“Whether it’s 800 or 900 people, we will take care of them – with the support we’ve seen so far with the community and the support I believe will come our way – there will not be a problem,” said the long-time volunteer.
And Bates is certain in future years the community will continue to step up and look after those families that are financially disadvantaged.
“I believe it in my heart.”