A. Butler

This year’s Keizer Merchant of the Year would never let you assign her the credit, but it should be known: Thanks to Audrey Butler’s organizational skills, lots of Keizer families get a Christmas they otherwise couldn’t afford.

As founder of the Keizer Network of Women, a subgroup of the local chamber of commerce, she and others took on the chamber’s Giving Basket program, which selects families in need for a Christmas dinner and presents for the kids.

Butler has also been on the chamber’s board, and runs a successful Mary Kay Cosmetics business for a living. She moved to the area in 1995, and was born and raised in San Luis, Colorado.

“She single-handedly has made this gift giving campaign what it is,” said A.J. Nash, a previous award winner who helped select Butler. “She took that on about four years ago and has taken it from an idea to something high schoolers and so many other community members look forward to volunteering for, and it helps those who are less privileged have a good Christmas.”

She admitted she knew something was up when her teenage son actually wanted to spend his Saturday night at a chamber of commerce banquet. But she wasn’t sure why.

“I was shocked,” Butler said about receiving the award. “I know that I do a lot with the chamber, but there’s a lot of people who probably do more. I’m really grateful.”

She started the KNOW group for the same reason people start any business or club: She saw a need. It was a project she started outside the chamber and brought into the fold when she joined up. Starting out with eight women on board, the group now boasts 50 members.

Nash also credited Butler with coordinating New Member Coffee, a monthly get-together of new and veteran chamber members.

Rick Day, another recent Merchant of the Year, had a hand in selecting Butler and announced her award Saturday night.

“Audrey’s fantastic, extremely organized and inspires the people that work for her and serve with her on committees,” Day said, adding that KNOW has been “a great resource for support and labor for various community events.”

And imitation is the most sincere form of flattery: The Chamber now has a MAN Men group for networking.