Children at Blair Moody Elementary School in Taylor don the new jackets they received from members of Golden Ark Masonic Lodge 595. The children are Tavion McKnight (second from left), Kayla Kerr, Joseph Wyson, Carly Blackwood, Jessica Bourbina, Damian Camilli, Amire Buckens, Nigel Holmes and Heider Malik. Behind them are Masons Dominic Hargraves (left), Joe Molner and John Miller, Principal Michelle Tocco and Masons Mike Barham, Aaron Wilmoth and Jerry Bliss.
TAYLOR — Trisha Bergeron said her heart broke when she saw coatless school children standing in freezing 30-degree temperatures waiting for a bus.
The teacher at Taylor Parks Elementary School said some students want to go outside for recess with their classmates, but do not have the proper winter clothing.
Bergeron knew who to contact: her father, Joe Molner, a member of Golden Ark Masonic Lodge 595 in Taylor. Molner met with other Masons who founded a “boots and coats” fund to raise money for boots, coats and other winter apparel for children who need help.
Last week, for the fourth straight year, the Masons came through again at Taylor Parks. Later in the day, they made a delivery to Blair Moody Elementary School.
John R. Miller, worshipful master of Lodge 595, said this year’s donation to Taylor Parks included 30 pairs of brand new winter boots and 32 brand new coats. At Blair Moody, students received 28 new coats. Dozens of hats and gloves also were donated.
“It’s so comfortable,” said Brandy Holmes, a fourth-grader at Taylor Parks, as she felt the softness of her new jacket. “This is awesome.”
Taylor Parks Principal Diane Downey thanked the Masons, saying, “The need continues to grow – and will continue to grow for several years.”
Bergeron was all smiles as she distributed new clothing to the children.
“They do all the work,” she said, pointing at the Masons. “All we do is give them the names. They’re so good.”
Miller said the Masons hold fundraisers and receive support from 1984 graduates of John F. Kennedy High School, who donated proceeds from their reunion events to the drive, allowing them to help more students.
J.C. Penney at Southland Center also assisted by providing warm coats and boots at a lower cost “and with friendly, smiling faces of store staff,” Miller said.
“Dawn Hernandez in the Children’s Department and Amber McMullen of the Shoe Department were extremely helpful in making this purchase a smooth process,” Miller said.
At Blair Moody, Principal Diane Tocco raved about the Masons’ delivery.
“It’s just amazing – the support the Masons have shown to our school,” Tocco said. “The students are so needy in terms of basic needs. They love to play outside and go outside. If they’re not dressed properly, they can’t go outside. We appreciate all the thoughtfulness, the generosity and the support of the community. These are our babies.”
There are more than 40,000 Masons in Michigan and more than 2 million members in the United States. Masonry is a fraternity of men who welcome any man to inquire about joining. Masons meet in lodges in many Michigan communities and have a long history of support for educational and community initiatives in this state and around the nation.
Anyone interested in making a donation to “boots and coats” can contact the Golden Ark Lodge at (734)374-9750 or e-mail [email protected]