With a membership of over 230 people, the Bonners Ferry Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #3522 has been involved in the betterment of Boundary County for many, many years. Founded as a fraternal organization, the Eagles is an international non-profit organization that unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice and equality.
Sandy Ashworth accepts a $500 check from Charlene Johnson, Deb and Mel Wood representing the Bonners Ferry Eagles for the purchase of large print books for the library.
As its motto states, "People helping people" is a value that the Fraternal Order of Eagles has held for more than a century. The motto guides the Eagles' charitable actions to help community groups and individuals for the betterment of the whole.
Mel Wood, President of the Bonners Ferry Eagles Aerie #3522 said, "We're just trying to help the local people the best we know how. When possible, we try to help when the community needs help."
The Eagles work hand in hand with the Eagles Auxiliary. This talented group of dedicated ladies works just as hard as the men for the betterment of the community.
"Joining the Auxiliary gave me a lot of good sisters," explained Deb Wood, Junior Past President of the Eagles Auxiliary. "It's nice to know that all these sisters are helping the community."
Members of the Eagles and the Auxiliary have contributed to many causes, raising substantial amounts of money and giving it back to the community. Mel said that over the years, the Eagles have donated thousands of dollars to the community.
During 2008, the Eagles donated the proceeds from their cotton candy and snow cone booth at the fair grounds to eight different children's organizations within the county. The Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Cub Scouts, 4H, FFA, Special Olympics, Partnership for Inclusion and FCCLA each received $400. Mel estimated that the concessions booth makes about $3,200 a year due to the effort of the Eagles members who give of their time and effort to man the booth at the different functions that occur at the fairgrounds.
"The booth was given to us by the Kiwanis group when they disbanded, and we continued their tradition of using the proceeds from the booth to help the kids in the county," said Mel. "We also donate back to the fair grounds to help with maintenance."
There are many examples of the generosity of this group. In December, they donated $200 to Bonner Community Hospice and $500 to Care 'N Share. This money was raised when members of the Auxiliary operated the concessions booth at the Holiday Crafts Fair held during the holidays at Memorial Hall. Child Advocacy and the Crisis Hotline were also recipients of several hundred dollars from the Eagles in 2008 as well as the donation of $1,000 to the clock tower fund. Additionally, the Eagles sponsored half of a backboard and money towards volunteer T-shirts for the Bonners Ferry Swish last summer. An America's Junior Miss contestant was sponsored by the Eagles as well.
Monthly breakfasts are another event that the Eagles consistently host in order to raise funds for worthy causes. The breakfasts are usually held on the third Sunday of each month at the Eagles building on Second Street and are open to anyone who would like a fabulous breakfast as well as to contribute to great causes.
Mel estimated that during the course of a typical year, the breakfasts bring in over $4,000 which is then distributed to organizations and individuals within the community.
The annual Rummage and Bake Sale organized by the Eagles Auxiliary earned $500, which was donated, to Boundary County Library for the purchase of large print books and books on tape.
"We really appreciate the donations from the Eagles," said Sandy Ashworth, director of the Boundary County Library. "They have been donating money to purchase large print books since 1998 and we also use some of the money to purchase audio-cassette books. We really appreciate the group and know how hard they work. This group keeps on giving; they're better than the Energizer bunny. Kudos to these folks. We've appreciated them for years."
Mel said that the Eagles also know how to have a good time. The Eagles building boasts a pool table, a dart machine and a big screen TV with a Wii game. Mel explained that social activities like Three-Ball, Bunco games, potlucks, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties and group picnics are a big part of the Eagles organization, in addition to fundraising.
"That's what the Eagles is all about. It's a social place where we can get together with friends, have a good time and support the community," Mel concluded.
Anyone interested in joining the Bonners Ferry Eagles may contact a current member for an application. Enrollment fees are being waived this year for employees of the police and fire departments.