Leonora Woods, Founder of the Samaritan Club of Calgary (1910)
For more than 100 years, the Samaritan Club of Calgary has had the same objective – to provide short-term assistance to Calgarians in need. Initially called “The Young Women’s Benevolent Society,” it was founded in 1910 by Leonora Woods, wife of the publisher of the Calgary Herald. During WWI, the members drove a team of horses with a buckboard around the city collecting junk, rags and paper – the sales of which benefited the Prisoner of War Fund. One of our early wagons is presently on display at Fort Calgary. Rummage sales, garden parties, teas, concerts and dances were other sources of revenue.
Each decade has seen changes as the members made an effort to keep up with the times and the changing demographics of the clients they wished to help. The various efforts to raise money have included – Calgary Stampede Futurity Sweepstake ticket sales, the Artists Showcase, and bazaars.
As the world has changed the club has evolved along with the times.
In 1910 the 12-member society was formed.
It was in 1917 that the now 25 members donated layettes for the needy to the Red Cross, the General Hospital, V.O.N., the YWCA, the Traveler’s Aid and to a widow in India. Currently, our club boasts over 170 members who contribute to our success by volunteering in a variety of functions.
Layettes continue today with our team assembling over 650 layettes annually which include hand-knitted sweaters and hats, and quilted blankets donated by knitters and church groups around the city. They are distributed to Calgary hospitals and agencies for newborns of low-income families.
The first bazaar in 1912 netted $1,100. Our semi-annual Super Thrift Sale is the current version of the team of horses and buckboards. We host a giant garage sale in the spring and fall, with items donated by members and friends and sold over a 4-hour period to folks from across the city who line up hours in advance for the best selection of goods. It is the ultimate recycling program with thousands of wonderful items in gently used condition including clothing for the whole family, books and fine art, sporting goods, crystal, dinnerware and housewares, draperies and fine linens and children’s toys and games. All items not sold are passed along to various alternate charities in the city.
Additional fundraising activities include a golf tournament, Bridge & Games luncheon with a silent auction, a casino and our Season of Giving.
Over a century later we are still meeting the needs of Calgarians in crisis. As an agency of last resort, we are proud to be serving our community with compassion and commitment.