The Intelligent Elders (TIE) Club on West Street North was a busy community hub Saturday afternoon.
The club held a toy drive and a bid euchre tournament in support of the Salvation Army.
President Michael Gyokery notes the club started in 1976 with a mission to help seniors in any way possible.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, membership in clubs around town has been down, Gyokery says. It is no different for the TIE Club.
“People are afraid to come back,” he said. “Last year, we only had 49 members who had paid.”
The club currently has 65 to 75 members who participate in weekly crafts, line dancing, and other activities.
“It’s important for the seniors to have some place to go and something to do,” Gyokery said. “Our club gets them out of the house and doing something.”
While there are other clubs and programs for seniors around town, Gyokery says the TIE Club is special because it gives back to the community.
“We are a registered charity. People donate money and we give them a tax receipt,” he said.
On Saturday, the Salvation Army was benefiting from the club’s toy drive and bid euchre tournament.
“The admission fee was a $15 gift certificate and a non-perishable food item,” Gyokery explained. “We have 80 people today, which is great.”
He saw the turnout as a promising sign of the club’s future.
“We have some great ideas,” he said. “We just need to get more people involved.”
TIE Club member and Janice Buckle moved to Orillia from Cambridge four years ago. She says the club has been a positive way for her to meet new people.
“This has been a great way for me to know what is going on in Orillia,” she said. “I’m on my own, so this has been a really great thing for me.”
The retired Buckle says the TIE Club gives her ways to keep busy.
“It’s something I can do and participate in,” she said. “I’ve found other resources and things I can do through this club.”
Tina Howard, a captain with the Salvation Army, says groups like the TIE Club can make a positive impact on the less fortunate and the vulnerable population.
“When groups of people like this come together to gather the important things that we can use to support the community, such as toys, food and money, it really allows us to do what we do,” she said. “Without these sorts of drives, it would be very difficult to assist those who need it.”
The Orillia Salvation Army is set to serve 600 families this month.
“It’s quite a lot of work to gather everything we need for that,” she said. “Groups like this and the big drives are very helpful to get a lot of things at one time and boost our supply.”
Membership in the TIE Club costs $20 per year. Seniors interested in joining can call the club at 705-326-0802 to sign up.