While the Smithers Lions Club will be dissolving at the end of 2020, its longstanding Club 222 fundraising raffle will live on.
Lion Mike Wylie said the club fully expected the raffle to end along with the chapter, but Smithers Fire Rescue (SFR) stepped up to take it over.
“The Smithers Lions Club couldn’t be happier,” he said. “Not only will this longstanding raffle continue under the auspices of [SFR], but the money raised will continue to go towards worthwhile causes benefiting the community. The Smithers Lions Club wishes [SFR] many years of successful fundraising with the Club 222 raffle.”
Wylie estimates the fundraiser has taken in more than $200,000 since it was founded in 1970.
Over its 40-year history, that money has sponsored sports teams, paid for sport facility upgrades, helped individuals travel out of the area for medical reasons, helped purchase medical equipment for individuals, helped to cover the costs of making homes wheelchair accessible and provided bursaries to graduating students, he said.
Ian Smith, who is coordinating the raffle for the fire department, said firefighters were looking for something to replace their annual Harley raffle following the closing of Smithers’ Harley Davidson dealership in January.
“We were looking for different ways we could continue to raise money for muscular dystrophy,” he said. “Unfortunately the Lions Club is disbanding and a few of us had been [involved] in that draw already so we thought that’s a good idea, maybe we could take it over if they were willing and they were happy to let us continue it on.”
The Lions have turned over their list of previous years’ ticket purchasers so SFR can contact them for the 2021 edition. Smith said there will be a weekly draw for $100 interspersed with several draws of $500.
Firefighters ran the Harley Raffle for 21 years. In 2018, they surpassed $1 million raised and were honoured by Muscular Dystrophy Canada with three awards.
In addition to turning over the raffle, the Lions are divesting themselves of their assets as well. The Lions railcar has already been sold to CICK Smithers Community Radio. They are also trying to sell the Lions Den and adjacent picnic shelter at the Smithers fairgrounds.