For the fifth year in a row, the Masonic Angel Foundation's (MAF) volunteers are providing school supply kits to Cape Cod students. This year about 1,000 children from Wellfleet to Hyannis will receive a "Beehive School Tools" kit.
Today's visit to Staples involved the purchase of a little more than half of the 1,000 pencil boxes needed for the kits. Earlier in the week, the Masons picked up 809 packs of crayons. Purchases from Staples and Dollar Tree will continue for the next several weeks as the stores bring together all of the items needed for the kits.
Last year's elementary school kit configuration included a pencil box, #1 pencils, colored pencils, crayons, erasers, a pencil sharpener, two spiral notebooks and glue sticks. Middle school kits are a slightly different configuration.
Once all the merchandise is in captivity, the Masons hold a "Beehive Assembly Night" to put together kits and then package them up for delivery to the schools. At last year's assembly night about 25 volunteers assembled over 7,000 items into 1,000 kits in 85 minutes.
Beehive School Tools started in 2013 as a spin-off of the Masonic Angel Foundation's successful Beehive Food Program. To date, the Masons have distributed about 3,500 school supply kits.
A second phase of Beehive School Tools will take place in mid-autumn, when the Masons will have an opportunity to purchase deeply-discounted backpacks from Staples as the office supply store clearances surplus back-to-school merchandise. In the November 2016 the Masons purchased 210 backpacks for an average price of $6.90. The backpacks previously retailed from $19.99 to $59.99.
Funding for the Beehive School Tools program comes from The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, The Federated Church of Orleans, The Lodge of St. Andrew, the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts, participating local Masonic Angel Fund Chapters and individual donors. Both Dollar Tree and Staples further support the program with special orders of discounted back-to-school merchandise.
The Masonic Angel Fund program was founded at Universal Masonic Lodge in Orleans in 1998. The local program evolved into a national non-profit with chapters in 13 states. The Masonic Angel Foundation is 100% volunteer-operated, with no paid staff.
In addition to Beehive Food Program and Beehive School Tools, the MAF operates the original Masonic Angel Fund program which provides basic needs for children - such as eyeglasses, program tuition, clothing, and much more. The Beehive Winter Coats program provided winter coats to over 435 local kids - along with hats and mittens to 200 local children. The MAF's Laptops for KidZ project has delivered over 1,750 refurbished laptop computers to area schools since 2010.
The Masons never know the identity of their recipients, as all screening and delivery is handled by local school professionals. "The school makes the request and we try to say 'yes'," reports MAF board secretary Mario Meré of Yarmouth.
This spring the MAF launched the Laptops for Seniors project to bring technology access to financially challenged senior citizens, in partnership with area Senior Centers.
For more information about the Masonic Angel Foundation or to support their work please visit www.masonicangelfund.org