THE AIRDRIE 1ST CLUB: WHO ARE WE?
Formerly: AIRDRIE LIONESS CLUB
How We Help
We are proud to be involved in many programs and organizations through our work at the Airdrie 1st Club. Some of the work we do includes volunteerism as well as financial contributions for other programs locally. Our volunteerism includes supporting fellow groups such as Airdrie Festival of Lights, Blood Donor Clinics, and supporting Airdrie Seniors Week. We organize fundraising events such as working casinos and applying for grant dollars, to support other non profit organizations with financial donations. These organizations include: Airdrie Public Library, Community Links, various senior homes throughout Airdrie, Airdrie Food Bank, and more! We also have our own programming that we do fundraising for and we are most known for our Holiday Hamper Program This program supports thousands of Airdronians during the holiday season each year and it is all done through donation, fundraising, and volunteerism. We also do other programs such as our Valentine's Day fundraiser, Sirens Charity Hockey Game in support of our organization, SINGFest in support of our organization, and more.
Why We Changed Our Name
In April 2018, the Lions Club International Board of Directors chose to encourage all current Lioness Clubs to join the Lions family. The Airdrie Lioness Club chose not to join the international group and to remain a club that served only Airdrie.
We needed a new name that demonstrated what we do, as well as the heart behind the organization. The Airdrie 1st Club became our new name after we brainstormed and identified that what we really do is put Airdrie first. It was exactly what we needed to convey this message, and so our new name was created! We are now: Airdrie 1st Club, where community giving comes first.
Our Mission is to provide service to our community and its citizens. All year long members of the Airdrie 1st Club work hard to volunteer and/or fundraise for various community programs. We have been proudly building community and serving Airdrie since 1977.
Who We Help
Airdrie Boys and Girls Club
Airdrie COP Society
Airdrie Festival of Performing ARTS
Airdrie Food Bank
Airdrie Meals on Wheels
Airdrie Public Library
Airdrie Victims Assistance Society
Community Groups and Schools
City Social Services Programs
Supplies for Success
Thumbs up Foundation
Airdrie Rotary Club Music Program
Bethany Care Centre
Iron Horse Park
Other Humanitarian Services
As we experience our 2023/24 club year, The Airdrie 1st Club has celebrated for over four decades of giving back to our great community of Airdrie!
Formerly known as The Lioness Club, we began in September 1977 and we currently have over 60 members in our 2023/24 club year.
Our storey begins with our founding members. The late Dolly Dunne initiated the founding club, along with ladies like Pat Delair, who felt that a ladies club could accomplish great things. Dolly and Pat, along with 29 other ladies started volunteering countless hours and found ways to help make Airdrie, which had just attained town status in 1974 with a population of 1442, a better place for all to live. Dianne Durda, a past president of the organization believed, “It can grow. It’s pretty unique.” This concept became women coming together to improve and care for their community in whatever way we can.
That first year, we began our Holiday Hamper Program (at the time, it was called the Adopt-A-Family Program). Every year since then, we have come together with local sponsors and donations from the public to be able to support Airdronians-in-need during the holiday season. Prior to covid, our program included food and gifts for kid and adult recipients, sometimes requiring us to have space of 6000-8000 sq ft to organize. During covid, we had to adapt and alter our program to only be gift cards so that our program could still continue but not put our members or the public at risk. Since then, each year, we have opted to continue with the majority of the program operating with gift card giving. Things that have become important to consider for our Holiday Hamper Program are dietary restrictions, needs, and allergies. So we no longer collect food donations for our program. We request grocery gift cards from the public for these reasons. Every year, our families in need can be sponsored. This means that a person, group, or organization can opt to sponsor an entire hamper for a family or person. They then provide all the hamper contents including gifts for family members, grocery requirements/cards, and things like gift wrap for each person in that recipient profile. The identities of the recipients remain confidential, but their general information surrounding things like age and interests are conveyed to help hamper sponsors provide a personalized donation. Aside from this, we also have major sponsors and public donations as well as fundraising initiatives that we do throughout the year to collect toys, gift cards, and the most valuable: financial contributions to our organization for this program. Each year, we support over 1000 Airdronians. The 2022 program supported a near 50/50 split at over 600 children and over 600 adults in our Holiday Hamper Program.
One of the original fundraising efforts, dating back to the Club’s first years, was the annual pie sale. Pat Delair and Joyce Lewis, two of the club’s original members, remember spending many hours in their own kitchens baking all flavours of pies, (especially Saskatoon, which was in high demand) to sell at the annual trade show at the Plainsman Arena. While this program is no longer offered, we did use this as a beautiful team-building initiative using commercial kitchens to produce several hundred pies that we used to have for sale at the Home and Lifestyle Show.
Since it’s inception, the Airdrie 1st Club has helped numerous organizations in Airdrie through its fundraising efforts. The Club’s commitment to community is year round, encompassing every dynamic – children, teens, adults, and seniors.
To experience some of the contributions that our organization has made to the city, one just has to visit Genesis Place to see that the Lioness Club is a sponsor of one of the pools, or visit to Iron Horse Park birthday room which we were happy to contribute to. While visiting seniors at Bethany Care Centre, you could sit by a warm fireplace in the entryway (the gas insert was provided by the Airdrie Lioness). If you frequent our Airdrie Public Library, you will see numerous additions from the Airdrie Lioness in support of literacy and community. In addition, the Lioness have contributed to school libraries, playgrounds and benches, The Boys and Girls Club, Supplies for Success, Community Links Emergency Fund, and Backpack supplies for our homeless. The Airdrie Food Bank has been a recipient of funds through the Lioness, supporting the Milk Program, Snack Attack and Breakfast Programs. The Club also provided funds for the Food Bank to purchase new freezers/coolers. Inside the Airdrie Food Bank, the Airdrie 1st Club sponsors the “Caring Closet”, a place where struggling parents can select a new birthday gift for their child at no cost.
In September of 2008, under the presidency and initiative of Dianne Durda, the Airdrie Lioness Hamper Foundation was formed as a non-profit charitable organization. This would help in garnering funds for the Holiday Hamper Program as well as enabling us to issue charitable donation receipts.
The Airdrie 1st Club continues to evolve and expand our programs. 2014 saw the inception of the Blankets 4 Kids Program, where members share their time and talents and create small blankets for those who need them. In past years, blankets have been donated to the NICU and PICU units of the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Brenda Stafford House, The Children’s Cottage as well as Bethany Care Society. Whether escaping family violence, a house fire or other tragedy, we reach out in a small way, through our “warm hug” blanket program. In 2015, we also created the Helping Hands Hamper Program, to help any family in need throughout the year, whether it be through some kind of loss or financial struggle.
Since 1977, the Airdrie 1st Club has endeavored to fill needs within Airdrie to the best of our ability. This ability to fulfill our desire to support in all of these programs is directly related to the amount of member's donated time through volunteerism, and through the financial contributions and fundraiser outcomes we are able to receive. The Club has continued to grow and be a very vibrant and vital part of Airdrie.
If this all sounds like something you would like to be a part of, we welcome new members at any time! New members allow us to have new, innovative ideas and energy into our organization and that is vital to our programs. We are an inclusive women-led organization, and we have a space for you, no matter the amount of time you can give.
The Club currently meets at The Airdrie Ag Centre (97 East Lake Ramp NE) at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Check out our Facebook page for updates or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact via telephone at 403-660-1569 if you want to join, or donate! We look forward to meeting you!