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Shriners dedicated to raising funds for children’s hospitals

by Nancy Hamlett

The Carson Valley Shrine Club is a relatively new fraternal organization in the Carson Valley, however, as an affiliated organization with the Mason’s it has a history that dates back to 1872, when the Shrine Club was formed from Mason membership.

Primarily a fraternity devoted to fellowship and fun, Shriners have always been community minded and have donated heavily to people and places in needed. However, by 1920, Shriner members decided to focus on a single object for their philanthropy and formed the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, to be supported by a $2 yearly assessment from each Shriner.

Since the first Shriners Hospital was opened in Shreveport, Louisiana in1922, twenty-two hospitals have sprung up in the United States, Canada and Mexico because of increased fundraising efforts. First specializing in orthopedics for children, the Shriners Hospitals for Children have branched into burn and spinal cord injuries in children, as well as providing millions of dollars for research in these areas.

The newest hospital, recently completed in Sacramento, is a state-of-the-art facility that houses a burn unit as well as treating all skeletal diseases, according to Carson Valley Shrine Club President Bob Anderson.

“And we do it all without charging a penny,” said Anderson. “Each child who applies for services is evaluated by doctors to determine if the Shriners Hospitals for Children can help. If they can, and there is a financial need, Shriners foot the entire bill, no matter what the cost.”

Masons in the area have been meeting as the Carson Valley Shrine Club for four years, but it was only two years ago that the organization received its official charter.

“Andy Popa helped form the organization and was its first president,” said Anderson. “Now we have over 50 members ranging from Smith Valley to Coleville and Reno, with all towns in between.”

The Carson Valley Shrine Club falls under the supervision of the Kerak Temple in Reno, and one of the temple’s functions is to provide transportation to the Shrine Hospital in Sacramento for patients and a parent.

“Again, there is no cost for the transportation. We have two vans, and one of them is wheel chair accessible,” said Anderson.

Called Sunshine Drivers, Anderson is just one of many volunteers that donates time to make the trip to Sacramento. Between 140-150 trips are made per year, and Sunshine Drivers have also been known to pick up the patient and parent and transport them to Reno, before driving them over the hill to Sacramento.

“We spend a lot of time at the hospital, and we see such horrible suffering by these children, but it only intensifies our desire to help all that we can,” said Anderson. “It costs about $1.5 million per day to run the hospitals. Every little bit we do can make a difference.”

Antes at various Shrine functions netted the hospital fund over $900, however, Anderson said that the club hopes to host two or three fundraisers this year to add to that amount.

“Right now, all of the money we raise comes out of our pockets,” said Anderson. “The Shriners hospitals are such a great cause that I know that community would be willing to help us.”

Joining Anderson on the board of the Carson Valley Shrine Club are Paul Lockwood as vice president and Bill Vining as secretary/treasurer. There are over 50 members in the organization.

“We all help, and we are volunteers with other organizations,” said Anderson. “They (the members) are important people because they are important to other people.”

Honoring the Shrine motto of “Strong legs run so weak legs can walk,” the Carson Valley Shrine Club members are strong in commitment.

“We have a lot of fun together, but we are all dedicated to helping children through the Shiners Hospitals for Children. It’s a cause we all believe in,” said Anderson. He added that the Carson Valley Shrine Club accepts donations from the community. They should be sent to P.O. Box 3082, Gardnerville, Nev. 89410.

“Shriners doesn’t take tax dollars or insurance money to support our hospitals, and all of our services are free,” said Anderson. “It’s through activities like the Shrine Circus, the East/West Shrine football game, donations and fundraisers that we are able to provide these services to the children who need them.”

For more information about the Carson Valley Shrine Club, contact Anderson at 265-1031.