It's been my experience that Masonic blue lodges in the U.S. aren't that experimental in their fundraising activities. I've seen a couple of horse shows and rodeos sponsored, but many lodges simply rely on the tried-and-true traditional fundraiser: selling food. Lots of lodges host annual or bi-annual barbecues, fish frys, fried chicken dinners, or "hobo dinners" (beans and rice). A more recent variation, according to Small Town Texas Masons blog, is the "no chicken" chicken dinner. Apparently, you tell the public "If we felt like cooking, we'd have a chicken dinner, and you'd buy a plate, not because you're hungry but to help us, so look, let's just pretend we went to all the trouble of frying up some greasy chicken, and you give us $6.00 a plate for it, okay?" Kind of reminds me of that bit from Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where Ford tells the foreman it's a given that Arthur will be lying in the mud in front of the bulldozer all day, so let's just say that he is actually lying there, but really we're going to pop off to the pub for a pint or two, and why don't you join us?
Hey, if it works, I say, go for it.
Keys Lodge No. 297 of Hyderabad, India, has found a unique fundraising idea: A contest to determine who has the best signature. Yep, the three best signatures will win gold worth 10,000 rupees (about 221 USD), silver worth 7,500 rupees, and a DVD player worth 6,000 rupees. Ten runners-up will receive prizes worth 500 rupees (11 USD) each. And maybe a plaque. Masons like plaques. Funds raised will go towards buying supplies and equipment for a government-run school in the slum area of Hyderabad.
What do lodges do with the money they raise?
Most give it to a charity or a "cause" of some sort, eventually, or so I hope. Often money is simply given, with no strings, to a local Boy Scouts unit, or to a children's charity, or to a general health-related or health-issue-specific group. My lodge had to form a committee just to figure out which charities in the area were worthy of receiving a donation. Seldom have I seen money go to a group where you would see an immediate community benefit; donated funds seemed to just slip into the budgets of ongoing charity organizations.
The lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand in Rangiora have come up with a novel use of their funds — Using them to help improve the health not only of their own members, but all men. While men's health is often talked about — or should I say grumbled about? — unofficially at lodge meetings, a concerted effort by Masons to help other Masons, and all men, is not something I've heard of before.
Our New Zealand brothers have enlisted the help of a New Zealand television celebrity, Lloyd Scott, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, to help them gain attention for their program.
The lodges are sponsoring a month-long men's health campaign called "No More Secrets." Masons nationwide will hold events at lodges and community centers to encourage men to taker positive steps to improve their health.
Specialist speakers will talk about blood pressure, stress, diabetes, heart conditions, prostate, kidney, bowel and testicular cancer, alcohol use and abuse, obesity and erectile dysfunction.
"I think we have to face it, men are not fussed on dashing off to the doctor. We tend to put up with complaints, rather than seek advice — at times we are actually are a bit secretive about our health, I guess you could say this campaign is about revealing those secrets," said Lloyd Scott.
Image: Lloyd Scott (right) meets Deputy Grand Master Neville Patrick of Rangiora, New Zealand. Note Scotty's t-shirt.
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