For six years now, members of four area Masonic lodges have worked together with Farm and Fleet on one of our favorite fall events, the Clothe-A-Child project.

The premise is simple. Area school counselors recommend children for the program. On one special October Saturday, Masons and other volunteers take the children to Clinton’s Farm and Fleet store to help the children spend money ($125 per child this year) on clothing, coats, shoes and accessories like backpacks. Then all the participants head to the Masonic lodge for a Mason-cooked pancake breakfast.

What’s not to like about this program? The money for clothes is donated. Farm and Fleet employees sign up early to work the early hours (the project happens before the store opens to the public) and many put together treat bags for participants.

Instead of straight donations, the young participants learn about smart shopping from adult mentors, and the money stretches a bit farther than usual since Farm and Fleet offers generous discounts for the program.

The only downside is for the students who are told they must spend the money on themselves. Many participants — who come from less than ideal financial situations — often offer to spend their allowances on other family members. To see even those in need being so generous helps restore faith in humanity.

There is one other downside — knowing that Clothe-A-Child will need to return next year and the year after. We’re so happy to see the help, and saddened that the need persists.

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