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After 83 years, Olds Hospital Auxiliary disbands

Olds hospital fundraising arm ceases due to lack of volunteers
MVT Olds Hosp Auxiliary McBeath-1
Olds Hospital Auxiliary president Leola McBeath was in a reflective mood after announcing the organization's decision to disband.

OLDS — The Olds Hospital Auxiliary has disbanded after 83 years of existence. 

The auxiliary's president, Leola McBeath, made that announcement during a visit to the Albertan

The organization raised money for the Olds Hospital via various fundraisers. They also operated a tuck shop near the hospital lobby, with profits going to the hospital. 

McBeath said the decision to wind up the organization was necessary because over the decades, the number of people joining had dwindled to the point where carrying on was just not feasible. 

“We had 30 when I first joined. We’re down to 13,” she said. 

“And the new ones don’t want to join, the younger ones. They’re too busy with their families and whatever it is they do with their kids. Volunteering is not in their agenda.” 

Also, some of those who still belonged were getting pretty elderly. 

“I’ve got one older than me. I’ve got one who’s 96, and I’m 90,” McBeath said.  

Back in 1939 when it was set up, the Olds Hospital Auxiliary organized teas, rummage sales, raffles and fall fairs to raise money to help buy hospital equipment. 

In 2014, they received a certificate of recognition from the Alberta Healthcare Auxiliaries Association for 75 years of existence. 

McBeath says the fall fairs were especially lucrative during the organization’s heyday. 

“The whole town worked on it. We could raise lots of money in one day and we’d buy things, whatever they’d need for the hospital,” she said.  

“One year it was over $10,000 – in one day.” 

McBeath was asked if the creation of the Olds Health Care Fundraising Committee affected the auxiliary. 

“No, it’s a different organization. They have machines in the foyer and we sold pop and stuff in the tuck shop,” she said. 

"One girl was kind of miffed when that happened, but it all goes to the hospital anyway, so what difference does it make? 

McBeath was asked if COVID-19 restrictions hurt the organization. 

“Well, we couldn’t open," she said. “The people in the hospital would have one or two people who could go and see them. Well, those people aren’t going to buy every time they go by the door. 

“We tried to open last summer and it just didn’t work. Nobody would buy.” 

Many Olds Hospital Auxiliary members were very loyal. 

“We’ve got one member who’s been there over 50 years. And there’s quite a few of them who have probably 30,” she said. “I’m around 40, I think. I can’t remember what year I joined.” 

McBeath said the Olds Hospital Auxiliary/tuck shop was her “second home there for a while.” 

“I was there every Tuesday afternoon for two hours and then I’d go back Tuesday night and take the cash off,” she said, adding some other members would come every week “very steady.” 

McBeath said she’s been the auxiliary's president for probably 20 years. 

“You know, you’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to have somebody take it over, but nobody would step up,” she said. 

McBeath said it was sad to make the decision to disband the auxiliary. 

“The one girl had been a member for over 40 years. She was almost in tears. But we just can’t do it anymore,” she said. 

"It had to be. That’s all there was to it. We just can’t continue.”