After a challenging year, the St. Jacobs Optimists are back doing what they love once again. And that means programs for young people, who are at the center of the service club’s community work.
“We are focused on bringing out the best in kids,” said Bob Wilbur, who has been president of the not-for-profit for the past decade.
“Our focus is on youth. And we have a philosophy that if we improve the lives of the youth in the community, that will be a benefit to the community overall – I think that’s an important thing, too.”
Wilbur and his fellow club members have been longing to get back in action after a year that put a halt to many of their annual campaigns and programming.
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“Last year was a strange one for us because we had to put most of our activity on hold, and we’re a fairly active club so we’re used to fundraising events and running events for children here in the village. We had to put a hold on almost all of that.”
However, the club was able to partner up with the St. Jacobs BIA (Business Improvement Area) to bring a pumpkin parade to the village in time for Halloween and bring Santa to town during the run-up to Christmas.
For this weekend’s holiday, the group’s agenda includes a modified version of their Easter celebration switched from an egg hunt to a visit from the Easter bunny himself.
“We had the Easter egg hunt [that] was a tradition here in the village that a lot of kids and families look forward to. Without missing this springtime activity, we wanted to do something to fill the gap. I think that families are looking for something fun for kids to do, and we need to do it in a safe way. So, we felt like doing something to honour the kind of Easter tradition, but to do it in a way that kids can still have fun and put a smile on their face, maybe a treat in their basket and do it in a safe way,” Wilbur explained.
The visit is set to take place Saturday (April 3) in the village, where the Easter bunny will make his route throughout the town and drop off some treats along the way. All COVID-19 prevention measures will be in place, he noted.
Another of the club’s annual traditions is back after being put off last year: the lawn aeration fundraiser.
“[It’s’] one of the major fundraisers for our club and, again, we had to cancel last year but we are going ahead with it this year. We’ve been doing this for more than 10 years … for homeowners here in the village of St. Jacobs,” said Wilbur.
“Normally we would go door to door canvassing to sign people up, but this year we’ve arranged for it all online so people can go to our website and sign up,” he added, noting payment can be done by e-transfer or by Interac via a touchless tap terminal in person.
“In the last week of April, we’ll have a team of volunteers in the village. It’s a good fundraiser for us – a lot of work for our club, but it is worthwhile and it’s a good service for homeowners here in the village as well.”
Also in April, the Optimists will be holding a bottle drive, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 17. There will be various drop-off locations.
All of the funds from the club’s events this month go to its youth programs, said Wilbur.
For more information about the activities of the Optimist Club of St. Jacobs, visit their website.