Batavia, IL Teen Asks Lodges: 'Can You Spare $5?'
. . . and the Response is Tremendous
Checks keep rolling in as reply to 16-year-old's request to help
fund Lodge's annual Christmas Eve party for Mooseheart children
MOOSEHEART, IL, Dec. 5 - It seems a perfect match - the holiday season that is a season of gift-giving, and the Moose, a fraternal organization set on the ideals of doing things to make the world a better place to live.
And in Batavia, IL, resident Brad Duermit - though still too young himself to be a Moose - those two concepts have taken a form well past his 16 years of age.
Duermit, the son of Moose member Robert Duermit of Batavia, IL Lodge 682 and Julie Duermit of Batavia, IL Chapter 722 of the Women of the Moose, has shown he already understands both the holiday spirit as well as the fraternal drive that powers the Moose.
Aware that the Batavia Lodge organizes an annual party on the afternoon of Dec. 24 for the children at Mooseheart Child City & School who don't get to leave campus to visit relatives for the holiday -- and aware that this party could use a funding boost -- young Duermit took action. He sent letters to every Moose Lodge for which he could find an address, asking them for $5 to help fund the party.
Some $5,700 later, the checks keep rolling in.
"I know that, for college, they look for volunteer hours in addition to sports and good grades," Brad Duermit said. "My dad told me about the Christmas party. I thought it would be a good idea to help the kids for Christmas."
This year's party by the Batavia Lodge will be the 20th annual event they have coordinated. Administrator Kelly Schacherbauer said he was aware Duermit had options for how he wanted to go about his community service project.
"I'm glad he chose us," Schacherbauer said. "This will help make the party and Christmas for the Mooseheart kids a nicer one."
Brad Duermit said he mailed just over 1,000 letters, and that the preparation of those envelopes took some time.
"It's rewarding when we open the envelopes and find big numbers of money," he said. "I was expecting some back with checks and hoping for all of them, but when some came back undeliverable, I was a little worried."
Even before the checks started arriving, Robert Duermit said he knew the exercise in community service had been beneficial to his son. "I think this is showing him you can accomplish several things with one goal," Robert Duermit said. "Most of all, he's volunteering and feeling good about what he's doing. I think that's a lesson in life that he's going to cherish."
The amounts received have been generous. Many Lodges responded to Duermit's request by writing the requested $5 check. Others have written checks for $10. Some arrived with a check for $25, $50 or even $100 inside. DeKalb, IL Lodge 586 for a generous check for $200 - and the totals started to mount. Then, an envelope arrived from Little Rock, AR, with a note from North Little Rock, AR Lodge 942.
Inside was a check for $2,500!
"I didn't think it was real at first, so I had to check the writing of the number," Brad Duermit said. "And then I read the letter they sent. And - wow - we were all kind of speechless."
Robert D. Douglas, Jr., the Administrator of North Little Rock Lodge 942, wrote that letter. In part, the letter said, "Thank you for inviting us to be a participant in this very worthwhile event and we appreciate the opportunity to put a smile on a child's face at Christmas."
Douglas said he presented the request before the Lodge's officers, which approved the expenditure.
"We did it because we like what it was going for," Douglas said. "We voted on it and the officers said 'let's go for it.' I think it's a very worthwhile cause."
Douglas said that the opportunity to do something to help the children at Mooseheart is "all in a day's work" as an officer of his Moose Lodge.
"We're very much into helping Mooseheart, and Moosehaven as well," Douglas said. "We're quite active in the community. And every time we get a chance to help Mooseheart and Moosehaven, we do it."
Times are rough in some parts of the country, and Douglas said he was aware some Lodges would not respond to the $5 request.
"We haven't suffered as much in the recession," Douglas said. "But I know there's Lodges that are struggling and that's just a sign of the times. But we'll weather through this and we'll grow some more."
The Duermits live no more than a long stone's throw from Mooseheart, near Batavia's southern border that is also very near to the Batavia Lodge.
"Mooseheart's right down the street," Brad Duermit said. "I didn't understand what it was at first. But now I know and I'm glad I can help in some way."
The checks continue to arrive on a daily basis. Lodges representing more than 34 states have responded so far.
"It makes you realize how close-knit the Moose really are and how they do look out for each other," Julie Duermit said. "It also helps you see how everyone still keeps in perspective what they're really here for. It's Moosehaven and Mooseheart - that's what the Moose is about."
Even as this year's party begins to take shape, Brad Duermit is already thinking about repeating the process next year. "I think I'll do this every year until I go to college," he said.
Mooseheart Child City & School is a 1,000-acre community and school for children and teens in need of a secure home, located just south of Batavia, IL, between Illinois Route 31 and Randall Road.
Founded in 1913, Mooseheart is supported completely through private donations - the great majority of which come from the 1.1 million men and women of the Moose fraternal organization, in more than 1,900 Lodges and 1,600 Chapters located throughout the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and Bermuda. Moose International headquarters is located on the Mooseheart campus.
Since its founding, Mooseheart has operated a complete, accredited kindergarten-through-high-school academic program, plus art, music, vocational training and interscholastic sports. It is an extremely nurturing and student-tailored program, with an average student-teacher ratio of 12-1.
Mooseheart students who complete their studies with a 3.0 GPA or better (4.0=A) are eligible for up to five years of annually renewable scholarship funding, covering tuition, room and board in an amount comparable to that required for an in-state student at an Illinois public university.
Mooseheart is currently home to roughly 230 students, ranging in age from preschoolers to high school seniors. Applications for admission to Mooseheart are considered from any family whose children are, for whatever reason, lacking a stable home environment. Mooseheart boasts its own U.S. Post Office and a fully functioning branch of Fifth Third Bank.
In addition to Mooseheart, Moose International also supports Moosehaven, a 70-acre retirement community near Jacksonville, FL founded in 1922; and conducts more than $90 million worth of community service programs annually.
Founded in 1888, the Moose organization has long offered its members an opportunity to do good for others while celebrating life, with family, social, and sporting activities. For more information on the Moose organization, visit the websites at www.Mooseintl.org , www.Mooseheart.org, www.Moosehaven.org and www.MooseCharities.org, or call 630-966-2229.