Giving season begins in earnest with holidays

Eagle Masonic Lodge member Mike Montag provides some comic relief for a recent children's event. The Masons are collecting donations of money and toys for their annual Christmas present event. Call Jon Asper at 970-977-6234.
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To help the Masons

The Masonic Lodge in Eagle is collecting money and toys for their annual Christmas giveaway. Call Jon Asper at 970-977-6234.

To help the Salvation Army

Bell ringing begins Friday. Sign up online at, or call 970-748-0704.

To help the Minturn Community Fund

The Minturn Community Fund’s annual Holiday Gala is 6 p.m., Dec. 11, at the Gourmet Cowboy. Tickets are $80. Buy them at

EAGLE COUNTY — In less time than it takes to watch a “Friends” rerun, local charities and relief agencies field dozens of requests for help.

‘Tis the season.

Masons keep finding new ways to give

The local Masonic Lodge helps around 1,000 children have a merrier Christmas each year.

Castle Lodge in Eagle is more than 100 years old, the county’s oldest civic/service organization. Its mission has not changed in the last century — the good stuff lasts.

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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,” said Jon Asper, an Eagle icon and Mason. “We do all kinds of other things, too, but almost all of it’s geared toward helping people who need it.”

Toward that end, the Masons partner with a few other local organizations to give away Christmas presents to families 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. Mostly they come from single-parent homes, and the Masons started doing it to help kids whose Christmas might be a little thin.

In addition to all the toys, food and cash, the Masons collect used bicycles and fix them up, just so they can give them away.

“Some are referrals from other organizations, some are people we know about,” Asper said.

Ring in the Christmas season

Salvation Army bell ringing starts today. Last year, they collected $50,000, even with the relatively short season and the frigid weather, said Tsu Wolin-Brown, the executive director.

More than 200 volunteers packed 500 food boxes this past Saturday to start the Salvation Army’s Christmas season.

“Most of the year, we are fairly invisible unless you need help,” Wolin-Brown said.

They have 500 families a month coming to the food pantry, people asking for help with utilities, rent, emergency prescriptions, emergency transportation … the list goes on and on.

So, they need bell ringers.

“With Thanksgiving falling so late this year, the bell-ringing season is shortened,” said Larry Agneberg, a local Realtor and Salvation Army volunteer. “This is a critical time to the Salvation Army fundraising, and we are striving to fill as many shifts as possible. The simple truth is that when the bell-ringing venues are staffed, the money is flowing in and stops abruptly when a shift is not filled.”

Go to http://www.salvationarmy and sign up online.

They need some of that money right away. The Salvation Army’s Holiday Cabin is Dec. 6-7 at the National Guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Site at the Eagle County airport and at Traer Creek in Avon.

It’s for families who are not matched up for Adopt-a-Family so they can come and select toys or gifts for their own children.

Minturn Community Fund

The Minturn Community Fund’s Holiday Gala is Dec. 11.

Santa rides around Minturn on a fire truck, delivering gifts to kids in that community.

This year’s wish list contained the names of 60 local kids, whose parents need some help in providing a merry Christmas, said Nancy Hassett, with the Minturn Community Fund.

The event is at the Gourmet Cowboy in Minturn.

The Minturn Community Fund was established in 2002. They handle the town’s concert series in Little Beach Park and family-in-need fundraisers.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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