There will be a warm and fuzzy welcome for the 275 ladies of the Royal Canadian Legion from across B.C. when they arrive in Parksville for their 62nd biennial convention on May 2.
Hosted by the Central Vancouver Island Zone of the RCL Ladies Auxiliary, the convention is a major undertaking and includes some impressive goody bags.
Just like the academy awards in which nominees take home gift bags, the ladies who attend the Parksville convention will take home some swag.
And while the legion bags are much more frugal than the $160,000 Oscar loot bags, a lot of love and care has gone into them.
A committee of 22 ladies from auxiliaries in Bowser, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Lantzville, Courtenay, Comox and Port Alberni have been working on the event for two years. This includes making the gift bags.
Ruth Cook of the Qualicum Beach Legion Ladies Auxiliary (L.A.) is one of the volunteers who put in many hours making sure each bag had something special.
In fact she is the one who co-ordinated the project that resulted in a pair of hand-knit slippers for each bag.
Cook said she came up with the idea for the slippers because she wanted the bags to be special and while she didn’t have a big budget to work with, that didn’t matter.
“I asked for $100 in seed money to buy wool. We didn’t have much in the bank account, but we wanted to make a big splash and goody bags with slippers would make this auxiliary stand out,” she explained.
She said with a limited budget she started combing the thrift stores for wool but admitted that didn’t result in any great bargains.
“Then I started on the phones. My daughter in Comox got the word out that I needed wool and she got some wool off of the base up there. My friends went to garage sales and when they mentioned it was for the Ladies Auxiliary they gave it to them at no charge. It was unbelievable how it came together.”
She said she ended up with boxes, bags and totes full of wool.
Her next challenge was recruiting the knitters.
She made up kits with wool, needles and the pattern, which was handed down to her from her own mother, and passed those out.
She also hosted knitting bees at her home.
With the help of auxiliary members and non-members they were able to make hundreds of slippers.
“This started 10 months ago and I can’t believe how the project grew. We got it done, but it was down to the last minute,” she admitted.
Cook spent at least four hours a day working on the project on top of all the other things she does for the L.A.
In fact, her efforts were acknowledged April 19 when Branch 76 held its honours and awards ceremony.
Cook was presented with the volunteer of the year award for all that she has done as a member of the L.A. and that list is long.
Although she remains modest about her contributions over the past four years with the L.A., it is easy to see why she was recognized for always going the extra mile.
Cook took over the membership job before she was elected to the L.A. executive and spent many hours redoing the records for the membership.
She volunteers at the meat draws, helps out with the garage sales and has earned a reputation as one of the best soup makers the Qualicum Beach Legion has ever had.