There was a spectacular display of generosity in Conception Bay North last week as Loyal Orange Lodge No. 153 in Tilton dispensed a stack of cheques valued at more than $20,000 to some 20-plus groups and organizations throughout the region.
This historic Protestant fraternal organization, which has been active in Tilton since 1910, staged its third presentation night Oct. 11 at the Harbour Breeze in Harbour Grace. Dozens of very grateful recipients and supporters of the Lodge gathered to enjoy a good meal and witness this extraordinary demonstration of kindness and civic-mindedness.
In the three years since the lodge began holding this event, it has handed out more than $70,000, said Lodge member and host Garry Gosse.
"That's not bad for a local lodge in Tilton," Garry stated.
A large percentage of the money is raised during Wednesday night bingo at the hall in Tilton.
In all, the lodge will give away some $30,000 this year alone to charities in this province and elsewhere.
Carbonear-Harbour Grace MHA Jerome Kennedy commended the lodge for its "amazing generosity," while longtime lodge member Clarence Gosse emphasized that "it's all about the children."
Support for young people was certainly a theme at last week's event, which included monetary donations to breakfast programs at 12 schools in the region, and was highlighted by a speech from Tilton resident Kimberley Rogers, whose five-year-old daughter Reanna has autism.
Kimberley has become a champion for autism awareness in recent years, and some say Kimberley and her husband Roger are role models for how parents should face such a situation. She gave a moving presentation, detailing Reanna's early development, including the tell-tale signs of autism, her diagnosis and the struggle to ensure Reanna gets the supports and services she needs.
She described how Reanna is exceeding the expectations of many, and is now attending school regularly, travelling by bus.
Kimberley was described as the "star of the evening," with Anglican minister Rev. Christopher Fowler calling the three members of the Rogers' family "absolute angels."
Clarence Gosse drives the bus that takes Reanna to and from school, and described her as "a pleasure."
Gushing with gratitude
It was noteworthy that the lodge did not limit its donations to charities in its immediate vicinity, and even gave financial support to a fellow Orange Lodge in Spaniard's Bay.
The following is a list of the 12 schools that received financial help for their breakfast programs - Holy Redeemer (Spaniard's Bay), All Hallows Elementary (North River), Coley's Point Primary (Bay Roberts), Amalgamated Academy (Bay Roberts), St. Peter's Elementary (Upper Island Cove), St. Francis School (Harbour Grace), Harbour Grace Primary, Davis Elementary (Carbonear), Persalvic Elementary (Victoria), Perlwin Elementary (Winterton), Woodland Elementary (Dildo), and Whitbourne Elementary.
Nearly every school had a representative on hand to accept the donation, and all were gushing with gratitude.
The breakfast programs are designed to ensure children have a nutritious and healthy start to the day, with hundreds of young students throughout the region benefitting from the program. What's more, every dollar raised by the breakfast program is matched, dollar-for-dollar, by the province.
"This money will be put to good use," said Holy Redeemer principal David Crane.
Amalgamated Academy principal Lisa King described the financial aid as "precious," since it goes to such a worthwhile cause.
The following, meanwhile, is a list of the other groups who received a donation:
- Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador;
- Spaniard's Bay Volunteer Fire Department;
- Spaniard's Bay Recreation Commission;
- Royal Canadian Legion, Spaniard's Bay;
- Tri-Con Special Olympics;
- Trinity-Conception Shrine Club;
- Young Girls Auxiliary of Spaniard's Bay and Tilton;
- Orange Lodge in Spaniard's Bay;
- Anglican Church Women, Tilton;
- All Saints Anglican Church, Tilton;
- Loyal Orange Benevolent Association No. 1341, Tilton.
The Tilton lodge is very active, and attracts between 40 to 45 members to its regular meetings.
"We're like a family," Garry Gosse explained. "We're very tight-knit."