By Tim Leeds
The NCMSC (North Central Montana Shrine Club) has started their annual Vidalia Onion fraternal fund raiser sale, with May 5 the date scheduled for the onions to arrive.
The annual sale is for the maintenance and operation of the club. The onions are listed as a rare and sweet delicacy, and are only grown in a few counties in southeast Georgia, with a very limited growing and harvesting time. Shriner Noel Davidson said people interested in ordering the onions can contact a member of the NCMSC.
NCMSC does four fund raisers over the year, one for the operation of the Shriners Hospitals for Children and the others for maintenance of the club. One of the functions of the NCMSC is to provide transportation for local children to the free hospitals. Davidson said last year they provided transportation for 33 patients to the Spokane Shriners Hospital, the closest Shriners Hospital to the area.
Davidson said public support for the NCMSC activities has been most satisfying.
"Sincere thanks to all who have so generously supported the North Central Montana Shrine Club projects," he said.
NCMSC has three other main projects coming up. The Shrine Circus, to be held by the Jordan World Circus, will be at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Hill County Fairgrounds on June 28. The Jordan's have a long family tradition of producing high quality circus acts, including an act of their own which ran for 10 years in the Circus Circus Casino in Reno, Nevada. The Shrine Circus, which have been presented across the country for most of the last century, are a main fund raiser for the free Shriners Hospitals.
The drawing for the NCMSC beef raffle will be held Sunday, Sept. 16, during Havre Festival Days. Prime beef will be awarded to three families, with the meat cut, packaged and frozen according to the winners' directions.
The Shrine Calendar Raffle begins at Thanksgiving time, with a winning name drawn every day. $25 will be awarded every day Monday through Saturday, $100 every Sunday, $500 on the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, $1,000 on New Year's Day and the grand prize of $4,000 on Christmas, Davidson said.
The Shriners may be most known for their free children's hospitals, the first of which opened in Shreveport, La., in 1922. The hospitals, the official philanthropy of the organization, have now grown to 22 hospitals, 20 in the United States, one in Mexico and one in Canada. A decision was made in 1962 to establish specialized pediatric burn hospitals, and there are now three Shriners Hospitals dedicated to this treatment came into being. In 1997, the Northern California Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., was opened, the first to encompass all three disciplines of orthopedic care, burn treatment and spinal cord injuries, as well as research. There are two other Shriners Hospitals which also deal with spinal injuries.
Since the first hospital opened in 1922, the hospitals have provided free care to nearly 650,000 children, with about $5.1 billion spent operating the hospitals and nearly $1.1 billion on construction and renovation. The 2001 overall budget for all hospitals totals $567 million.
Davidson said the major funding for the hospitals comes from endowments, which are substantial but still don't cover all of the expenses. He said money also comes from gifts, bequests, hospital fund raising events such as the circus, and the annual hospital assessment paid by every Shriner.
Davidson said anyone who knows of a child needing orthopedic, burn or spinal cord injury care can notify a member of NCMSC or call toll free, 1-800-237-5055.
On the 'net: The Shrine of North America and Shriners Hospitals: http://www.shriners.com