Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Empty bowls, baseball dugouts, and biscuits & gravy

In the comments section of previous articles here on The Taper, as well as on his own blog, Masonic Traveler has been talking about how lodges might want to think outside the box when it comes to recruitment and fundraising events.

A novel approach to raising money for a local food bank and homeless shelter has been going on for several years at a Masonic temple in Racine, Wisconsin. It's not a Masonic event, per se; the lodge just allows the Racine County Food Bank and the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization Shelter to use their kitchen and dining hall. As part of the deal, Job's Daughters were allowed to sell desserts at the event for their own fundraising needs.

The ninth annual Empty Bowl fundraiser was held yesterday, and by the close of the lunch-and-dinner event, over 700 diners had spent or donated over $11,000 to the charities.

Over 50 restaurants provide soups, and over 1,500 individually designed soup bowls, created by local public and private school children, were available. A diner pays his money, picks a bowl (which he can keep and take home as a souvenir), and chooses his soups. Interesting twist on using food as a fundraiser. Over 130 volunteers helped out with ticket taking and clean-up duties during the day.

Jackson Lodge in Seymour, Indiana, is hosting an Easter egg hunt later this month. They're also sponsoring three youth league baseball and softball teams this summer, and have donated cash to the league to construct a new dugout. Nice job, guys.

A Masonic lodge in Americus, Kansas, is still behind the times in its approach, in my opinion. When every fast food place on the planet is open at 6 a.m. serving unhealthy breakfasts, these brothers can't come up with anything any more creative than serving "biscuits and gravy" this Saturday morning. I don't think that's going to attract too many men seeking Masonic Light, and I'm not sure it's a "service" for the community, jacking up the neighborhood's collective cholesterol levels. The funds will be used for "various [unnamed] lodge projects." Yeah, that'll get 'em in the door.

All in all, it's good to see Masons getting involved in their communities.

If you would like to see your lodge's events mentioned here, just let me know.

Image: Giuliana Domanico, 1½, eats a bowl of soup Monday during the Empty Bowls fundraiser at the Masonic Center, 1012 Main St, Racine, Wisconsin. Photo by Gregory Shaver, Journal Times

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