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For the first time ever, local Shriners will hold a ball to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
"We hope to have more of these events to raise people's awareness of the needs of children in our community who need our help and of the good that we can provide to them through our hospitals," said Vice President Bob Heflin. "We know times are tough right now, but every little bit helps, and who wouldn't want to help a child in need, to give that child a chance?"
The Juneau-Douglas Shriners' 2010 Shriners Ball will run 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday at Centennial Hall. Seattle dance band The Brick House Band will perform 1970s through contemporary rock and disco.
"So come out and enjoy the dancing and merriment," Heflin said.
Heflin, a Shriner for four years, said he wishes he'd started a long time ago.
"Others have been Shriners for more than 25 years," he said. "The reason we do this is brought home to us every time a child, or the parent of a child, we have helped approaches us to tell us how well they are doing now."
The Shriners have helped more than 40 children from Juneau alone and close to 60 in Southeast Alaska in the past 40 years, Heflin said. Shriners provide support to burn centers and child care facilities at local and regional hospitals and Shriners Hospitals for Children, a unique international health care system of 22 hospitals.
"These hospitals are dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs," Heflin said.
Staff at Shriners hospitals help children with orthopedic disorders, burn injuries, cleft lip and palate and other quality of life ailments.
"The medical staff focuses on the kids as a whole person and not just repairing the disorder," Heflin noted.
However, there has never been a charge for any of the care or services provided at Shriners Hospitals. This is why the Juneau-Douglas Shriners are hosting the ball.
The local club recently changed its name to the Juneau-Douglas Shriners and has about 36 active members.
Juneau-Douglas Shriners bring their member-owned, mini-vettes and mini-bikes to several parades throughout Southeast Alaska.
"We do this for visibility, to remind people what the Shriners are about," Heflin said.
The Shriners plan to increase its parade participation to other Southeast communities in order to promote the philanthropic efforts of Shriners and Masons.
"More importantly, we are looking for ways to increase our contributions to Alaska's children in need of medical services," Heflin added. "After all, it's the kids who are important!"
The Juneau Shrine Club was chartered in July 26, 1912, by the Nile Temple from Mt. Lake Terrace, Wash., and has been in existence ever since.
At one time, its membership was around 100, but has declined in past years. Around 1998, the local Shriners joined the AlAska Temple in Anchorage, now known as AlAska Shrine Center.
All Shriners are Masons, but not all Masons are Shriners. The Shriners are a Masonic fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. There are approximately 375,000 members from 191 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Republic of Panama.
Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at firstname.lastname@example.org.