The Pitt Meadows Lions Club has been helping out behind the scenes with many local organizations – including the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.
However, not only did the pandemic hit the club hard financially, but membership numbers have been steadily declining for years.
President Tom Hardy is hoping to attract younger members as they slowly resume their fundraising activities.
For at least five years the club has been backing up local firefighters in both communities for the Firefighters For Families fundraising campaign, just in case the firefighters are called out to an emergency.
“I think that over the years of my volunteering in both communities I have noticed that service clubs are very often ‘invisible’ to the public eye. They just quietly serve their communities when called upon and they do so very often, without recognition,” said Lorraine Bates, chair of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society and executive director of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest.
Bates praised the local Lions club for always being there for her organizations, especially at a time when they are usually stretched for volunteers.
“Without hesitation,” she said of the club members.
The Pitt Meadows Lions Club just celebrated their 70th year this year, but were unable to hold an official event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently there are 16 members in the club. However, that was not always the case.
“When I was president back in 1978, for the first time, we had 48 members,” said Tom Hardy, who has been a member of the club for more than 50 years.
Hardy explained not only is their primary concern right now attracting new members, but their fundraisers have also taken a hit over the past couple of years because of the pandemic.
They would hold a pancake breakfast on Pitt Meadows Day and on Canada Day, and have a hot dog cart at all the civic functions – but the pandemic put a stop to all. It even put a stop to their biggest money raiser, the meat draw at The Jolly Coachman, a weekly draw that netted about $12,000 a year for the club.
This past year they were able to hold a drive-through hanging basket fundraiser for Mother’s Day and they also helped out with parking at Country Fest. Donations from parking would usually be split 50/50 between them and the festival. This year, however, because the fair was held at lower capacity, Bates told them to keep the lot.
As for membership, Hardy said, it’s been a steady drop.
“It’s today’s world. Both parents are working. One can’t get away for meetings,” said Hardy, adding that members will no longer have to attend meetings in person, because they are planning on holding them virtually. And, he added, they do have a volunteer program as well – membership not required.
He noted that the club does good work. They support minor sports in the community and have two bursaries at the local high school. They even collect eye glasses that are sorted in Calgary before being shipped to Central America where they are donated.
Usually they have a budget of around $3,000 a year that they invest into their causes.
Hardy is hoping they can attract not only younger members, but also senior volunteers.
“I don’t’ think the seniors realize there is more they can do,” he said, adding that they only need to volunteer a few hours every week and they don’t have to attend meetings.
The Lions Club usually donates about $500 for Country Fest – that helps pay for meals for the volunteers.
And, he said, if Bates needs help sorting or handing out items for the Christmas Hamper, his group will be there too.
To donate or become a member go to pittmeadowslionsclub.ca/ or call 604-219-6023.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.