Masons offer immediate help for children in need
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – Shoppers found bargains recently when the Siloam Lodge of Masons hosted its 13th annual Snowbound Yard Sale to benefit the Masonic Angel Fund. The benefiting charity provides immediate assistance to children in need who don's fit the criteria for the usual social service programs. Locally, the project helps children in Westborough, Northborough and Upton.
Founded in 1998 by members of the Universal Lodge in Orleans, the fund is currently active in over 140 lodges in 12 states. When local affiliation became available in 2000, the Siloam Lodge was the fourth to participate.
Ken Young, a trustee of the Siloam Lodge, has been involved with the project from the start.
“I was the secretary of the lodge at the time, and I pushed the motion that we adopt the Angel Fund,” he said. “It certainly sounded like a beneficial charity, and one of the objectives of Masonry is childcare.”
Young and other trustees have developed an ongoing relationship with area schools. Trustees authorized to sign the fund's checks are alerted of confidential requests by school principals, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers or teachers.
“The school person needs to verify that there's a need,” Young said. “We don's want to know the child's name; all we know is the gender, the age and the need. There are times when a school gets a request and they don's feel it's justified. But if the school person says it's needed, then it's needed. You'se got to give credit to the principals, nurses and teachers because they really do pay attention to their kids.”
The Masons receive requests year-round, he noted.
“There's quite often a peak sometime around October or November, because kids get their eyes tested when they go to school and they'sl need glasses,” he said. “When the weather gets cold, then the school nurses are looking for jackets. And anytime during the year, there might be a problem and a need to provide an after-school program, and we'se also sent kids to summer camp.”
Young recalled helping a boy attend a particular summer camp.
“A school nurse was quite interested in sending a child to a diabetic camp,” he explained. “They would go for a week and be with other children with diabetes, and learn how to take care of themselves. Once this child found out he was diabetic, he believed his life was over. He wasn's going to be able to play football and he was very depressed. The family didn's have any resources. We paid $700 and the headquarters in Orleans gave us another $300, so we paid $1,000 for tuition.”
Another request from a school nurse came after a student tripped and broke a front tooth.
“The parents didn's have insurance,” Young said. “Within 15 minutes, I arranged for an appointment with a pediatric dentist who saw the child that day. He repaired the child's tooth the next day and we paid for it.”
Angel Funds nationwide strive to respond to requests within one business day – or less.
“I can get to the furthest school away from my house in 45 minutes or less,” Young said. “We tell people we should be the immediate and last resort. If it's something that's going to benefit the child – emotionally, physically or otherwise – then we'se obligated to take care of it.”
Located at 12 Center St. in Westborough, the Siloam Lodge offers a pancake breakfast the third Saturday of each month from October through June, 8 to 11 a.m. While the all-you-can-eat breakfast is free, donations are accepted for the Masonic Angel Fund.
For more information, visit masonicangelfund.org.
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