The Airdrie Lioness Club – famous for its red-vested volunteers and yearly Christmas hampers – has changed its moniker after nearly 40 years, following a decision not to join forces with the Lions International Club earlier this year.
According to club president Helen Gitzel, rather than come under one umbrella with the Lions International Club at their behest, the Airdrie-based group has decided to remain their own entity, a decision that resulted in the need for a change of name.
She added the club officially changed its name to the Airdrie 1st Club on July 1, but she assures Airdronians the change is in name only. The club’s structure, mission, and inclusive spirit remain the same.
“In the beginning of this year, we decided we would not join with the Lions, we would just become our own entity as we’ve always been since 1977,” Gitzel said. “We had many names put forth and this was the one that best suited what we wanted people to know – we put Airdrie first.”
Gitzel added club members were sorry to see the old name and logo go, but they are eager to live up to the new designation.
“I think everyone is sad in a way – it was sad to think that since 1977, over 40 years under this name, and we are going to change,” she said. “But it was also exciting because we are putting forth a new name with the new mandate that Airdrie is first and for people to know that.”
She added in the past, residents would mistake Airdrie Lioness for the Lions International Club.
But their famous Christmas hamper program and other distinct community efforts set them apart, and now their name will, too.
“We do other good things within the community,” she said. “Our mission is to serve the people in Airdrie and the community, so what we’re most known for is our Christmas hamper that we do every holiday season for people who are in need of a little step up."
Additional community efforts in the past have included donations of blankets for sick children, a fundraiser in conjunction with the Airdrie Home and Garden Show, and involvement in community parades and presentations.
The group would also host a casino when possible, to raise money to donate to organizations around the city such as Bethany Care Centre, the Airdrie Public Library, and North Rocky View Community Links.
Gitzel added this year, the club will be going ahead with its Christmas hampers, but it will be modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The modified program will include Christmas gift cards for parents to buy their children presents, groceries, or even to buy themselves a holiday treat.
“We’re hoping we can throw in a few things and maybe have a box of chocolates or some blankets, or something that we can put into a small box with the gift cards – make it a little bit more Christmassy,” she said.
For those who are interested in learning more about the Airdrie 1st Club, check out their website at airdrie1st.ca
Follow me on Twitter @carmenrcundy