Eagles hand out thousands of dollars to local causes

Thanks to its successful weekly bingo sessions, the Fraternal Order of Eagles has raised $75,000 for good causes

A local service club has been quietly raising tens of thousands of dollars and giving it away in the community.

In the past year, from June 2012 to June 2013, the Fraternal Order of Eagles has donated a total of $75,225.30.

The organization, with 111 members, donated $42,392 to community groups in Cranbrook and $18,060 towards youth guidance. Another $4,198 went to sports projects, and the remainder to national and provincial agencies such as the Canadian Cancer Society, and the B.C. Children’s Hospital.

This massive outpouring of support makes Cranbrook’s Aerie 3032 the largest donor in all of B.C., where there are 23 Aeries.

“(Our motto is) people helping people,” said president Steve Chisholm. “That’s all we do, try to raise money to help people.”

The Fraternal Order of Eagles tradition began in Seattle and quickly spread throughout the United States and western Canada.

“Down in the States, they are in almost every small town,” said Chisholm. “Within a four-hour drive there are probably 10-15 Aeries.”

In Canada, the movement didn’t spread as well beyond B.C. While there are 23 Aeries in this province, there are less than 20 throughout the rest of Canada.

Traditionally the Order has had an Aerie made up of men, and a complimentary ladies’ auxiliary.

Now Aeries are allowed to accept women directly, and already three women have joined Cranbrook’s Aerie. The ladies auxiliary remains very active.

Aerie 3032 raises most of its funds from Sunday afternoon bingo, held at the Eagles hall near the Days Inn.

The Order used to host bingo before Cranbrook’s bingo hall started up. When the bingo hall closed down, the Order started offering bingo again and it was an instant success.

Bingo at the Eagle Hall started at the beginning of October 2011, and by the end of the month 80 to 90 people were attending each week.

The Eagles pay out about 60 per cent of what they take in at bingo through cash prizes, roughly $1,500 each week.

The other 40 per cent makes up what the Eagles give out to the community.

Through bingo, the Eagles raise about $50,000 a year. Last year, the group received a $20,000 gaming grant from the B.C. government.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles installed a new executive on June 1, 2013. They are: Steve Chisholm, president; Brett Harris, vice-president; Rick Banman, past president; Harold Jones, chaplain; Hugh Murphy, conductor; Marty Kenelly, secretary; Harry Gold, treasurer; Scotty Morrison, inside guard; Jack Lewis, outside guard; and Brett Harris, Rick Banman and Heinz Hartman, trustees.