Masonic Angel Fund Chapters across Cape Cod are wrapping up a busy holiday season. Volunteers with MAF chapters in Orleans, Wellfleet, Yarmouth, Dennis, Falmouth and Harwich worked right through Christmas Eve taking care of last minute requests.
Some of the items delivered in recent weeks include:
In the Nauset Regional School District, all of the winter outerwear was purchased by a grant from the Virginia Cook Trust held by The Federated Church of Orleans. Hats and mittens were purchased with a donation by the family of a deceased Mason. Backpacks and snow pants were covered by individual donations. Additionally, 200 teddy bears were donated by MAF co-founder Robert Fellows and a member of the Federated Church. The bears went to youngsters served by Cape Cod Children’s Place and Nauset Youth Alliance.
Coats, hats and mittens in the Dennis-Yarmouth region’s elementary schools were underwritten by grants from the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, one of the Scottish Rite Masonic Bodies in Boston, the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts, the Masonic Angel Foundation, The Lodge of St. Andrew in Boston and monies raised by the Yarmouth Masonic Angel Fund. Harwich and Falmouth children also benefitted from these donors' generosity.
The Masonic Angel Foundation is known for its thrifty shoppers. This year two extraordinary retail partnerships evolved that allowed the MAF to purchase much more with their charitable dollars. As MAF president Robert Fellows reports, "Dennis Talbot at The Clothes Den in Orleans made a big difference for us." Mr. Talbot contacted the Masons in April about ordering coats ahead of time. MAF committed to purchase 300 coats at $10 to $15 each. The coats arrived in October and, thanks to the aggressive pricing and generous donors, the Masonic Angels were able to purchase over 400 coats. In addition, Mr. Talbot donated a number of coats and infant snow suits.
An additional advantage to working with The Clothes Den is that most coats could be distributed in early November. In previous years, MAF did the bulk of their shopping during Thanksgiving weekend to take advantage of deep holiday discounts.
Staples approached MAF in October regarding a large block of clearance backpacks. The Masons purchased all 218 backpacks at prices averaging a little over $6 each. Most backpacks were ticketed with retail prices between $29 and $49. "Staples has been extremely generous to us every year with back-to-school specials and clearance lots. We could not do as much as we do without Staples' support," said MAF board secretary Mario Meré of Yarmouth Port.
Many small items were obtained from Dollar Tree in Dennisport, whose store manager has a long history of working with the Masonic Angels from school supplies to the monthly Beehive Food packages.
MAF always provides brand new articles of clothing, with tags still attached. With the large variety of coat styles available through The Clothes Den, the children were able to pick out the coat they wanted. For some children this was likely the first time they ever chose a new item for themselves. "It is very important to us that each child receive a brand new item. Many of these kids have only ever worn hand-me-downs or previously-worn items," said MAF volunteer Adam Menges.
The Masons never learn the identity of the children who receive MAF assistance. “We work through our local schools and social service agencies. The families know that the Masonic Angels provided the items but we don’t know the recipients at all”, explains Mr. Meré. “This protects everyone’s privacy and makes it much easier for the schools to work with the Masonic Angel Fund.”
School staff determine which kids are eligible and submit lists of size/gender to local MAF volunteers.
And the work continues
The Masons do not hibernate the winter away. "We'll be doing a winter school supply distribution in either January or February. There will also be some additional coat requests as the weather turns colder and snow finally arrives on the Cape - and we're ready to help," said Mr. Menges.