Eagle Masonic Lodge gearing up for its annual toy drive | VailDaily.com

Eagle Masonic Lodge gearing up for its annual toy drive

EAGLE — Sometimes Santa needs some helping hands.

In the western end of the valley, members of the Eagle Masonic Lodge have been some of Santa's most energetic helpers for almost two decades.

Jon Asper has taken the lead on the Masonic Lodge's Toy Store for more years than anyone can remember, including him.

The Toy Store doesn't sell anything. The Masons give toys to families and children who need them — around 1,000 children every year.

The Masons are collecting toys and cash right now to make sure everyone has something to smile about on Christmas.

Asper is an irresistible force of nature and people ask him for all sorts of things, mostly help. Coming up with that help seems to be one of his spiritual gifts.

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"They don't need charity. They just need a little help," Asper said.

The Masons and Asper don't ask a lot of questions about why people need help. Folks just do, and that's enough.

"You'd be shocked about who needs help with food or toys but doesn't want to ask because they used to make good money and now they don't," Asper said.

The Masons added bicycles to the mix. They take used bikes in pretty good shape, repair them and tune them up, then give them away to kids who need them.

Not just anyone can wander in and get toys, Asper said. They get lists from the Salvation Army and other organizations.

Mostly the kids come from single-parent homes, and the Masons started doing it to help kids whose Christmas might be a little thin.

Century of service

Castle Lodge in Eagle is more than 100 years old, Eagle County's oldest civic/service organization, and its mission has not changed in the last century. The good stuff lasts.

They do it every year, quietly, or as quietly as they can when they're collecting tens of thousands of dollars worth of toys, food and cash. When they swing open the doors, the Lodge basement looks like Santa's workshop, only the elves look like these guys.

"We find ways to raise money, so we can give it away," Asper said. "We do all kinds of other things, too, and almost all of it's geared toward helping people who need it."

Some children flounce down those stairs. Some children walk in warily, not sure it's real. They're quickly assured that it is, and that they're welcome there.

"Do you have a bicycle?" the children are invariably asked.

The children look at these guys, again, like it cannot be real.

It is, thanks to Santa's helpers.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

To Help

Masonic Lodge Toy Drive

To help the Eagle Mason Lodge with its holiday toy drive, put toys in donation boxes or cash in donation cans at:

City Market

Boone’s Liquor Mart

Eagle Diner

Red Canyon Café

Batson’s Corner/Nearly Everything Store

Bart & Yeti’s

To help or for information contact Jon Asper at 970-977-6234.