GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - With a strong motto - "people helping people" - and an extensive membership base, it seems only natural that Grand Junction's Fraternal Order of Eagles #595 raised $25,609.26 in 2012. A large portion of that hefty chunk of change goes to a number of local charities.
"Our fundraising efforts are internal," said Carol White, a longtime member and past president of the women's auxiliary group.
This means the Fraternal Order of Eagles #595 raised most of that money from its membership base alone - through raffles, bake sales, poker nights and other types of social gatherings - and "most of it stays right here in the Grand Junction community," White said.
According to White, Eagle members often pick the charity they'd like to fund-raise for because of personal interests; that's why she picked C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates) as her main focus. And, in her 15 years as an Eagle, she's raised funds for C.A.S.A. for most of that time.
"I've raised about $16,000 (just for C.A.S.A.) over the years," she said. "We try to help about 10 charities a year. Some we do every year, but we can change it."
Locally, Eagles #595 must also raise about $8,000 each year to fund its Christmas program for underserved and deserving middle-school students. White said teachers and school counselors are able to nominate 81 pre-teens to go shopping with Eagle sponsors for Christmas. Each child receives $100 and a shopping trip to K-Mart.
"These are very good kids," White said. "It's a feel-good day."
Becky Smith, another past president of the auxiliary group, said she's been an Eagles member for the last 40 years. And the group acts like a "big family," supporting one another through friendship as well as fundraising for good causes.
"We're family-oriented," Smith said. "I lost my husband two years ago, and I don't know how I would have made it through without (the Eagles)."
Smith additionally said the work done by both the men's and women's chapters of Grand Junction's Fraternal Order of Eagles is "very important" to the community, raising funds most recently for C.A.S.A., Mesa County Libraries, Colorado DiscoverAbility, St. Mary's Hospital and more.
"You can be as busy as you want to be," Smith said, and "you get out of it what you put into it."
While new members are welcome, there is an application process and yearly dues associated with being an Eagle. Smith said the Junior Eagles group is currently seeking an adult-overseer to help kids become involved in the volunteer-based organization.
Currently, the local men's group has about 500 members and the women's group has 350.
"It's fun to be with one another and share ideas to come up with new ideas to raise money," she added.
For more information, visit the group's website at www.foe595.com or call 970-243-6454. Grand Junction's F.O.E. homebase is located at 1674 U.S. Hwy. 50.