Last year, the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary donated exam beds and emergency room carts to the Nanaimo Regional Hospital, a radio frequency generator to the Victoria Hospital, equipment to the BC Children’s Hospital, defibrillators to Ladysmith Fire/Rescue and much more. It added up to $180,000 to meet health care needs in Ladysmith and beyond.
The auxiliary, which raises most of this money through its Thrift Store on First Avenue, is making a big difference so far in 2014 as well, already making or approving donations for burn bandages and equipment for BC Children’s Hospital, a new ECG machine for the Victoria Hospital and carts for Cowichan District Hospital.
The list of organizations to which the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary contributes is long and varied and includes Royal Canadian Legion Branch 171 Ladysmith, the Ladysmith Community Health Centre, Cowichan District Hospital, Ladysmith Family and Friends, the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation, BC Children’s Hospital, the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation, the Canadian Red Cross Society, Ladysmith Search and Rescue, Ladysmith RCMP Victim Services and many more.
Jessica Bell, philanthropy officer with the BC Children’s Hospital — Vancouver Island, says the local auxiliary has made a big impact on her organization.
“We are incredibly grateful to have the support of Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary,” she said in an e-mail. “Alongside many other generous British Columbians, their generosity has helped enable the dream of a new BC Children’s Hospital to become a reality.”
The Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary provides bursaries for four local high school students going into a health care program, donating $16,000 to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation each year. The auxiliary recently found out that of all the healthcare auxiliaries in B.C., Ladysmith donated the most for bursaries, noted public relations director Sandra Dall.
The auxiliary is grateful to the community for donating to and purchasing from the Thrift Store to keep the level of giving so high.
Dall says up to 300 to 400 people come into the Thrift Shop each day.
“We get a lot of donations, for which we are very grateful,” she said.
Treasurer Kathy Allen says about 99 per cent of the money the auxiliary donates comes from the Thrift Shop, while some also comes from the gift shop in the Ladysmith Community Health Centre, which is also operated by auxiliary volunteers.
Many of the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary’s donations stay right here in Ladysmith, although the auxiliary’s generosity does reach farther on the Island and onto the mainland. This year, the auxiliary will be buying two ECGs for Ladysmith Urgent Care, and Ladysmith Urgent Care has also asked the auxiliary for a lift chair and a digital X-ray processor, which costs $75,000 and would be the auxiliary’s biggest donation for the year.
While these are the bigger-ticket items, Allen says the little things mean a lot for people in the area, such as two Automated External Defibrillators for Ladysmith Fire/Rescue, aquatic wheelchairs for the Frank Jameson Community Centre pool and much more.
The auxiliary also donates to the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association, based in Duncan, and they support Wheels for Wellness. They also support Camp Goodtimes, and this year, they sent three children from this area to the camp for children and families affected by cancer.
“It’s a good feeling to be part of the auxiliary,” said Dall.
“I think a lot of people don’t really realize how broad of a spectrum it is that we give to,” added Allen.
The Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary also runs the Lifeline program in town, and volunteers do many smaller jobs.
“We have little jobs on the side, such as sending a card to someone who’s sick or when someone passes, sending a card to their family,” said president Irene Telford.
The auxiliary has about 120 active volunteers who give 2,000 volunteer hours per month. They have no paid employees except for one student.
Dall says the auxiliary is always looking for men and women of all ages to volunteer. Anyone interested in volunteering can get involved with the Thrift Store, working in receiving, sorting, pricing, stocking shelves and manning cash registers. Volunteers are also needed for the Memorial Gardens, and the gift shop at the Ladysmith Health Centre is always looking for help. Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary volunteers can also get involved in Meals on Wheels, which is looking for a new co-ordinator.
For more information about the auxiliary, call 250-245-5225 or visit www.ladysmithhealthcareaux.ca.