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Matching Charity grantsThe impact of the Masonic Matching Charity Grants Program in communities throughout the Commonwealth is immeasurable. When R.W. Grand Master James L. Ernette launched the Program to the brethren in his inaugural remarks after his installation as Grand Master, he knew it was a "Perfect Match" for Freemasonry. However, the success of the Program has exceeded what anyone could have imagined in just one year since its inception.

The Matching Charity Grants Program has become so much more than a dollar for dollar matching grant from the Grand Lodge. It is more than providing financial support to charitable causes. It is more than making Masonry more noticeable throughout Pennsylvania. It has become an integral part in the lives of so many people who have benefited and participated in what has truly become "The Perfect Match!"

More than 600 applications for matching grants were submitted last year from more than 300 lodges that participated in the program. Where there was a need for support, Masons were out there supporting it.

At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge, Past Grand Master Samuel C. Williamson, Chairman of the Matching Grants Committee, spoke of what he recognized as "one very successful program" by a lodge through the Matching Charity Grants. The program he mentioned was the establishment of a partnership with a local elementary school by Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660, Reading. When the Lodge decided to participate in the program, the idea of adopting an elementary school was conceived. The members chose to adopt Jacksonwald Elementary School based on where the majority of the Lodge's members live. They then met with the school board, principal, and teachers, and were given a green light to assist the school in its needs. The Lodge asked the principal and teachers to develop a wish list of what they felt the school needed, and the members of Isaac Hiester Lodge began to implement their plans.

The Lodge committed $20,000 to school improvements over two years and has already donated half through the maximum matching grant. But, it was not only money that the Lodge has committed themselves to donating, but their time as well. The members of the Lodge physically landscaped the entire school, refurbished the playground, and even built a pavilion near the school's soccer field. While some members were digging holes to plant shrubs, other brethren assisted the school secretaries in writing bus-passes for the children and stocking the bookshelves in the library. The program grew to become so much more than a matching grant, it became a part of the community. They involved local businesses and services to complete the work and donate some of the materials, making it a community project.

As a result, newspapers and TV news stations have been covering the progress of the program, members of the Lodge who have not attended a lodge meeting in years are beginning to return, and more than 18 men have petitioned and been approved to be made Masons.

The successes of the Isaac Hiester Lodge's program are largely due to the motivation of the brethren to become more actively involved in their community. When people in the community see that Masons do care, Masonry will shine and good men will ask to join. The members of Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660 see their accomplishments thus far as only mere signs of a bright future. Their program has only begun!

Schuylkill Lodge No. 138, Orwigsburg, conducted another very successful program through the Matching Charity Grants. The Lodge sponsored a delmonico steak dinner when it learned that one of its members had a 4-year old grandson who was struck with Arnold-Chiari Malformation, a rare structural condition which affects the cerebellum, and needed financial support to help defray medical costs associated with the boy's rehabilitation.

The advertised fund raising dinner sparked a light in the community. Every ticket for the steak dinner held at the Masonic Temple was purchased, helping raise approximately $5,000. From the amount of attention that was being focused on helping the young boy, other community groups came forth to give their support. The fire company, Order of Eastern Star Chapter No. 424, a Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troop, Lions Club, and many more local organizations and businesses supported the dinner and sent donations into a special charity fund established in the boy's name by the Lodge.

After days of organization and hours of grilling steaks, the brethren of Schuylkill Lodge presented a check to the boy's family for more than $16,000. The Masons of Orwigsburg began a project that became a community effort and was truly a Perfect Match!

For further information on the Matching Charity Grants program click here.

Members of Oakdale Lodge No. 669, presented a $200 check to the Scaff Children Medical Fund. The donation was placed in a youth fund account and will be used to support various youth groups in the community.

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Twenty-three teams of the Nazareth Soccer Club were recipients of new goalie shirts from Whitfield Lodge No. 622, Tatamy PA. The Lodge raised more than $700 to purchase 25 goalie shirts in all.

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Members of West Chester Lodge No. 322 held a pancake breakfast to support the D.A.R.E. Program of the West Chester Police Department.

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St. John's Hospice, a shelter for homeless men in Philadelphia, received $4,000 from Thomas R. Patton Lodge No. 659, Philadelphia. The money will be used to purchase food, clothing and provide medical services to the needy.

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Dr. Stephanie Brightbill, Principal of Jacksonwald Elementary, shakes hands with Paul Riffle, Overture Chairman, Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660, West Reading, while Dennis Bolibush, Exeter School District Building and Grounds Director and Robert Hoch, P.M., Secretary, Isaac Hiester Lodge No. 660, work on the landscaping.

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(above) Orwigsburg child, Patrick Tripp, receives a donation from Schuylkill Lodge No. 138. Making the presentation are (l-r): Front - R. Richard Gipe, W.M.; Patrick Tripp; and Earl Deibert, P.M. Center - Henry Lesher, D.D.G.M., Masonic District 11; and Dale Hine, J.W. Back - Richard Bigg Sr., Treasurer; Jim Turner, Sr., Secretary; and James Whalen, S.W. To raise the funds, members of Schuylkill Lodge No. 138, Orwigsburg, grilled several hundred steaks to benefit the Orwigsburg child suffering with Arnold-Chiari Malformation. (below)

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