Bel Air Woman's Club celebrates 50 years of service

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Sep. 13—The Bel Air Woman's Club recently celebrated 50 years with a luncheon at Vandiver Inn in Harve de Grace, where it presented three organizations with checks from the club's fundraising efforts from the year.

The organization gave a total of $2,000, which benefited the Salvation Army summer day camp program and Char Hope Foundation, and to Sandra Gorrell, who makes sleeping mats for the homeless in Harford County and donates them to various organizations.

The Bel Air Woman's Club is a member of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, an international organization that strives to nurture and support community projects that contribute to the well-being of local residents.

"Ever since the club started, it's been an organization that gave back to the community, so everything we do and money we make throughout the year go to women and children's charities in Harford County," said Cheryl Aiken, president of the Bel Air Woman's Club.

Throughout the years, the Bel Air Woman's Club have had representatives from various outreach groups attend club meetings to discuss helping the homeless in Harford County, and members bring items to each meeting to donate to the St. Matthew Lutheran Church food pantry, said Pat Williams, Bel Air Woman's Club spokesperson. In December, the club holds a Christmas luncheon and asks members to bring a toy donation for the Harford County Empty Stocking Fund, Williams said.

"We ask various organizations in Harford County who support women and children to one of our monthly meetings to talk about the services they provide," Williams said. "We ask for a wish list of things they are in need of and then ask the club members to bring items to the meeting."

Among the organizations the club has supported is Alpha's Glory, a pregnancy care center in Aberdeen. The club has held baby showers for the organization, said Karen Wilson, director of Alpha's Glory.

"The club holds a luncheon and the members bring wrapped baby gifts, and we open the gifts that are going to be shared with our clientele," Wilson said. "It's very nice."

The Bel Air Woman's Club has supported Alpha's Glory for eight or 10 years, Wilson said. "They give monetarily as well," she said. "They're really a group of lovely women."

Even with their continued service to the community, the organization struggled during the pandemic because of the lack of membership, which caused the organization to halt its fundraising events, Aiken said. The club had 35 members before the pandemic and is down to 22, she said.

"With COVID, our membership was knocked down quite a bit, but we survived," Aiken said. "We are not making as much money as we would normally make throughout the year, but we are handling it. We are still donating."

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Since the organization wasn't fundraising during the pandemic, a year went by without any made donations, Aiken said. The club held onto the little bit of money it had to put it in for the next year's donation, Aiken said.

Now, the organization holds craft shows to raise money for the charities, Aiken said. The organization is quickly filling up its calendar and is hoping to get back to doing more for the women and children in Harford County, Williams said.

The Bel Air Woman's Club was chartered in April 1972. The club meets on the third Thursday of each month at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 1200 E. Churchville Road in Bel Air.

The club's next meeting is on Thursday and free to attend, Aiken said. Membership is $35 annually.

The women are planning two craft shows for fall, Aiken said. The first craft show will be at Boscov's department store in White Marsh for the store's friends and family day. The club's second craft show will be at the Fallston Senior Center in November.