Masonic lodge buildings were shut down in mid-March due to the COVID 19 pandemic, preventing any in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. The masonic primary function of charity could have been severely hindered due these unforeseen circumstances, but one lodge on Long Island rose to the challenge.

A long-planned charity walk that Jephtha Lodge No. 494 F. & A. M.  has participated in the past was reprogrammed into a virtual event that helped raise several thousand dollars for an important charity. The Sunrise Association Day Camps have been operating in several locations, including Wyandanch, since 2006. The mission of the camps is to provide children ages 3 ½ to 16 struggling with cancer and the difficult treatments associated with it, activity filled summers at outdoor day camps free of charge. The struggling children’s months of isolation is broken with a few weeks of sunshine and fun at the day camp, without rescheduling any medical treatments because the kids can stay at their own homes at night. The program also includes siblings to help the children with cancer more comfortable and less lonely during their difficult treatments.

Over 40 members of Jephtha Lodge on the charity walk for Sunrise Day Camp in Heckscher Park in Huntington.

But the challenges of 2020 have forced the Sunrise Day Camp to close for the summer. The camp has now implemented a virtual camp complete with counselors, games, and recreation. This incredibly vital community continues to service the children and their families during, uncertain times.

The Brothers of Jephtha Lodge and their family members recognized these challenges and created a team to raise funds once again this year for Sunrise. Organized by brothers Jeremiah Campbell and Bill Fenty Jr., the “Masons for Sunrise” team held a few planning meetings via Zoom before holding their first online event on June 12. The invite-only virtual Happy Hour and Trivia evening was hosted by Brother Geoff Cohen was held with over 40 members calling in from as far as Hawaii to help this important charity. Three rounds of trivia (sports, masonic and Huntington history) and everyone sharing their favorite cocktail concoction, lasted over 90 minutes and was an exciting kickoff to this year’s fundraiser.

With the regular Sunrise Walks cancelled due to the pandemic, Jephtha Lodge had to be creative to keep to the spirit of the past outdoor fundraisers. On June 28, 45 brother masons and their families attended their own walk in Huntington Village, each donning face masks, and newly embroidered tee shirts supplied by brother Bill Friedman. Starting from behind the lodge building on New York Avenue, the group marched over to Heckscher Park and completed one round around the pond on a hot and humid Sunday morning. An exceedingly rare outing during these uncertain times proved to be an opportunity for the lodge to think outside the box for future charitable events.

Jephtha Lodge raised over $4400 during these two events, making “Sunrise for Masons” the top-25 fundraiser out of over 100 teams at this years Sunrise Walks events on Long Island. The goal will be higher for 2021, a challenge one of the fastest growing masonic lodges in New York is up for.

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