By Tim Leeds
Havre Lodge #55 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Montana will be distributing shoes at the Masonic Temple Building, Third Street and Third Avenue, on Saturday, April 21.
Mike Conley said they have both sneaker-type shoes and boots in both girls' and boys' sizes available. They will be distributed on the fourth floor of the Masonic Temple Building from 10 a.m. to noon, each with two pair of socks.
Conley said they need the kids to come to in on April 21, to size their feet and make sure they get the right size. All that they ask is that the shoes go to people who truly need new shoes and can't afford to buy their own, he said.
Jack Anderson said Conley got some people to come in for the shoes himself on the weekend of March 31. He said the lodge had only given away 12 pairs at that time, but Conley found 84 more kids that needed the shoes. The lodge still has more than 300 pairs to be distributed of the 400 it received.
The shoes are purchased from a fund set up by Clarence Sportsman, a member of the Billings Scottish Rite Valley of Billings and a former grandmaster of the Montana Masons, who wanted to make sure no one had to go without shoes.
Sportsman had had to walk to school without shoes as a child because his family couldn't afford them. Anderson said once he had made his fortune, anytime Sportsman saw a child without shoes he would take the child to a store and buy him shoes and socks. When Sportsman died, he established a fund with the Scottish Rite in Billings to buy shoes for children who need them every year. The program has expanded from the Billings lodge to several Montana communities.
Anderson said the people from the lodge in Billings are doing an outstanding job with the program. He said they are even going outside of their jurisdiction, so to speak. The Havre lodge is part of the Great Falls Scottish Rite Valley, he said, but the Billings people still supply it with shoes.
"It's getting to be kind of statewide," Curt Iverson said.
Anderson said the shoes they receive are good, high quality products. He said they receive them directly from the manufacturer, out of Florida.