By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
SHENANGO VALLEY —
The various Masonic organizations in the United States pump more than $2 million a day into various charitable organizations, said Ernie Bernice, treasurer of Shenango Valley Masonic Lodge 810.
However, some members of the local lodge think they have not done enough to support that honorable figure.
“I always thought groups like that should do things for charity,” Masonic Association President Vic Ellenberger said. “We hadn’t done anything for a while.”
The local Masons will reverse that trend with a Chinese auction to be held during their annual barbecue chicken dinner fundraiser July 20 at the lodge at East State Street and Neshannock Road, Hermitage.
All proceeds from the auction will go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children - Erie Ambulatory Surgery Center and Outpatient Specialty Care Center.
The Shriners and Masons are affiliated, and the hospital – which treats kids with orthopaedic and neuromsculoskeletal diseases and disorders – is fairly close to the valley and has a good reputation in the area, Masons said.
Senior Warden Tom Ansiger said a niece was treated at the hospital, and he praised the care she received.
“She probably wouldn’t be alive right now if it wasn’t for them,” said Ansiger, who is a Shriner.
“We don’t make a dime off the auction,” Ellenberger said. “Every dime is going to Shriners Children’s Hospital.”
The community has responded to the auction with businesses donating baskets, gift certificates and services.
Individuals also have come through, such as Marg Nottingham donating a painting of an elk – her husband, Gary, built the frame – local egg artist Carol Novosel providing examples of her work, and Bill Adler adding a hand-carved bluebird.
“We have some wonderful donations,” Ellenberger said. “When they see you’re going after a good cause, they come after you and they support you.”
Some people informed of the auction simply gave money to donate to the hospital, he said.
“It’s giving me an adrenaline rush to do this,” Ellenberger said.
The items will be available for viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the lodge, while the barbecue chicken will be served from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday. The names of auction winner will be drawn Saturday night.
“This has the potential to be an annual thing,” Bernice said.
Items for the auction can be donated until Friday. To donate, contact Ellenberger at 724-734-9403, Marge Rollinson at 724-342-9172 or Sarah Stull at 724-977-7436. Dinner tickets are available from any Mason.