Lake Hartwell Shriners lend hearts for kids
Out of the approximate 350,000 Shriners from 196 chapters throughout the world, 11 of those members make up the Lake Hartwell Shrine Club
The Shriner organization is dedicated to bettering the lives of children.
Shriners International describes itself as a fraternity based on fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth.
Best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children and those unmistakable red fezzes, the organization operates under the mantra “building a better tomorrow for the kids today.”
Chad James is the president of the Lake Hartwell Shrine Club. He was more than happy to outline the numerous events throughout the community and the year sponsored by the Shriners, all geared to the ultimate objective of helping kids.
“It’s all about the kids,” James told The Hartwell Sun.
With several annual events in the community, like the Easter egg hunt on the square, Back to School Bash, providing mountains of candy for downtown trick-or-treaters every Halloween, as well as several festivals, parades and other charitable events, the members have their hands full.
“Usually from about midway in January until December, every Saturday I have is booked up doing stuff for the Shriners,” said James.
With a network of 22 hospitals in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, the group’s primary goal is to keep the hospitals in full operation and provide exceptional medical care for kids in need regardless of insurance or financial means. In fact, every penny collected by Shriners is applied to maintaining that important goal.
“People think we’re out for ourselves and all the money doesn’t go where it’s supposed to,” said James. “I promise you, it goes where we say it’s going to go.”
While the orthopedic hospitals, burn centers and other medical facilities do file with insurance companies as of the last few years, families are never asked to pay a dime to cover the treatment for their child.
Though not out to make a profit in any way, the nearly two dozen facilities still feature top-notch care.
“Actually, the burn center that’s in Cincinnati, Ohio is the number one burn center in the world,” James said.
With the availability of that level of care in mind, when you see the guy in the telltale red fez holding a bucket, James said not to hesitate to reach into your pocket for a worthy cause.
“When you see us out there bucketing, all of that money goes to the hospitals for the kids to keep them running,” James said. “Our budget this year for the hospitals to keep the doors open is $999,000. Next year, it’s going to hit $1 million. Just support us any way you can. Every bit helps.”
When asked if there is a particular occasion out of the plethora of Shriners’ events that James likes the most, he explained it is impossible to nail down a favorite. At the end of the day, helping children is what it’s all about for him.
“I love doing this because if you ever see a child who’s been to the hospital and what they’ve been through, and how good of care they got, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “To have a little kid come up and hug you and say ‘Thank you for what you did,’ you can’t put a price on that. Not only are we helping kids in the hospitals, we’re helping kids in the community.”
The next big event for the Lake Hartwell Shrine Club is an annual motorcycle benefit ride with the Cross Creek Motorcycle Ministry at the Creek Church in Canon on April 21.
Anyone interested in more information or in donating can call James at 706-961-8362 or talk to any other member.
There is also a link to donate at www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.