A Jacksonville fraternal organization is venturing into new territory for fundraising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harmony Masonic Lodge No. 3 in Jacksonville announced yesterday a change in fundraising this Fall, in a year that has seen the group face several changes since before the pandemic began.
Secretary of the lodge, Frank Cline says the lodge will be holding a raffle for the first time in it’s 180-year history instead of attempting the usual fundraising dinners. Due to COVID restrictions, they were not able to hold their annual fundraising dinners this year, or able to operate the Zingabad Grotto Concession Bus.
Cline says with the raffle, the lodge is still considering the well being of others while fundraising, even when it comes to the prize: “We are going to give away a quarter of a beef, with the possible meat shortages we have heard about and a lot of meat plants shut down. We had a member who was willing to actually donate a quarter of a beef for us, and also two months of free locker rental at Jones Meat & Locker. We know that freezers are hard to come by right now, so that is why the locker rental is very important.”
Cline says some of the members who no longer live in the area have committed their tickets to the Jacksonville Food Pantry as a way to try and help both the lodge and area needy at the same time.
Cline says the lodge decided to try the raffle as a way to hold a socially distant and safe fundraiser to try to make up for dinners that help the lodge stay in operation. Cline says they also wanted to keep funds coming in because the Grotto Bus season’s majority of proceeds are donated to area charities such as Shop With A Cop, Camp Courage among others. He says, however, the group does hope the bus can make a comeback in 2021: “Next year we hope things get back to normal and we are able to run the concession bus and be at events like the Prairieland Heritage Museum Steam Show, the Morgan County Fair, some of the events up on the square, that we normally do. We have had a lot of people comment that they have missed the bus this summer and we have missed seeing all these people and raising those funds for the local charities.”
Cline says changing the way the fundraisers are handled this year is just one more adjustment that needed to be made in 2020, as the group was forced to sell the Masonic Center on West College Avenue earlier this year. Cline says he hopes the fundraiser works out as well as the sale of the property did, as the group is still able to meet in the building which will now have better upkeep going forward: “We did sell the Jacksonville Masonic Center this summer to a gentleman by the name of Will Gross, who owns several apartments around Jacksonville. He went ahead and rented us what was the smaller lodge room in the building. It went great for us, our members are happy that we are still in the building, and he can take that nice old Art Deco building and turn the rest of the space into apartments or office space or anything and do far more with it than we could.”
Tickets for the Jacksonville Harmony Masonic Lodge ¼ Beef Raffle are available and are $10.00 each. Due to the lodge’s by-law restrictions, the drawing cannot be held at the lodge, so the winner will be announced on AM1180 WLDS on November 18th. Cline says there are only 1,000 tickets available and the lodge is not sure they will be able to sell them all, so the odds of winning should be good.
Tickets are available from any lodge member. You can also inquire about tickets by going to the Harmony Lodge No. 3 Facebook page or by calling Lodge Secretary Frank Cline at 217-473-8861.