Finnish sweet buns with finely ground cardamom, shortbread, chocolate-chip cookies and Finnish sugar-cinnamon cookies — Ann Dibbs’ husband Al delivers a plateful to the table and pours cups of sweet and spicy tea.
“He’s my English butler,” Ann laughs.
Ann Dibbs, a.k.a. the Lions Club Cake Lady, has a penchant for sweet treats and a passion for helping seniors. She has been selling tins of fruitcake and shortbread cookies for Lions Club fundraisers each Christmas since 1984. Then, in 1988, she become concerned about seniors who lived on small pensions, and she asked the Lions to help. “I told them, ‘If you don’t back me up, I’m not selling another cake or cookie,'” she laughs, but a serious tone reveals her determination.
That same year, 1988, Ann became the first female Lake Laberge Lions Club member.
Ann’s husband, Al, helps with the fundraisers by ordering the fruitcakes and cookies from Ontario.
“I order them in September,” he says, adding that sales begin early October and end in late November.
“All profits goes to the seniors in Whitehorse here,” Ann says, adding that sales raise between $3,000 and $4,000.
The proceeds are used to purchase gift cards for groceries or coffee to help between 70 and 80 seniors.
The Yukon Council on Aging determines who will be given the cards.
“We don’t need to know who gets it,” Ann says.
Ann’s desire to help people began in her childhood. She recalls the hobos she saw while growing up in Finland; they were hungry, they had no jobs.
“We were so poor, but my parents would never turn anyone down,” Ann says. “Even if we had no bread, they would still give them the coffee.”
Ann has been volunteering ever since.
“Every hour I volunteer, it makes my heart feel good,” she says.
Ann recalls a Christmas when the cookies and cakes just weren’t selling.
“It made my heart ache,” she says.
She had been ill that year, but began selling anyway because she believed in it. “I believe it’s good. I give it my 100-plus percent… and that’s why they say I could sell the snow to an Eskimo,” she laughs and Al chuckles beside her.
“[It’s] all done with the love of the fellow man,” Ann says.
This year she has already sold out of all her Christmas cakes and cookies.
As for her own baking, Ann does that in tandem to her Lions Club fundraising and gives it away.
“She gives the cakes and cookies away to the schools,” Al says. And to family and friends — and to anyone else that Ann believes could use a plate of cookies at Christmas.
It’s a lifetime of giving that includes family and friends. Even their 10-year-old grandson, James, has gotten involved in the Lions Club fundraiser.
“He has a heart of gold,” Ann says.
Is it any wonder?