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Massena Elks, Shriners team up for hospital fundraising effort

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MASSENA - Organizers say a tag team effort between the Massena Elks Lodge and Massena Shriners to raise money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal was a success.

The two organizations held their second annual Steak, Shrimp and Clam Festival, which Chairman Harold Brothers said drew about 150 people.

“It was a joint effort. We had really great support from the community. We hope it becomes an annual thing,” Mr. Brothers, a member of The Media Shriners Ups and Downs, said.

Guests dined on a buffet feast of grilled rib eye steak, steamed shrimp and clams, Italian sausage, salt potatoes, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, baked beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, assorted cheeses and desserts - all in the name of helping the hospital.

“For 90 percent of the kids in this area, it’s where they go,” Elks Exalted Ruler James Root said.

Last year’s effort raised $7,000.

“We hope to do the same this year,” Mr. Brothers said.

The Media Shriners Ups and Downs are instrumental in raising money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal, he said, giving up their summer weekends to participate in parades and other efforts to raise funds.

“They’re a very dedicated group of guys. We start in May and work them through September,” Mr. Brothers said.

Local schools have also helped, he said. Norwood-Norfolk Central School saved 700 pounds of pull tabs, while Parishville-Hopkinton saved from 200 to 250 pounds. Madrid-Waddington also chipped in 250 pounds. Those are turned in to the scrap yard for 75 cents per pound.

“All the money goes to the hospital. It’s a new hospital,” he said.

The Shriners International broke ground on a new hospital in October 2011, and it’s scheduled to open in 2015 to provide care to children with orthopedic and neuromusculoskeletal disorders in a family-focused environment that puts children at ease. Mr. Brothers said they’ve pledged an annual donation to the hospital, something they’ll be able to do again this year thanks to the joint fundraiser.

But it couldn’t have happened without the support of the Elks, who staged the feast - everything from cooking to clean-up, according to Mr. Root.

“They’re all volunteers. They worked hard,” he said.

The equipment used for the clam bake was also a joint effort between the two groups. The Shriners once held an annual clam bake fundraiser several years ago to support their charitable projects. But as membership began to decline it became difficult to continue organizing the event, so they looked for another home for their equipment.

Phil MacDonald, an active member of both organizations, had suggested that the Elks Lodge take it over, and now it’s used at the Elks Club to help the Shriners with their fundraising efforts.

“All the equipment was donated by the Shriners. It’s for the community,” Mr. Root said, noting other community organizations also have access to the clam bake equipment for their fundraisers.

“We’re all here for the same reason. We really appreciate the Elks,” Mr. Brothers said.

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