Pierce City assistance program receives generous donation

If good things come in small packages, great things come in even bigger ones.

Last November, members of the Decatur Masonic Lodge #400 in Pierce City helped in sponsoring and managing the Thanksgiving Don Lakin Memorial Pilgrims Run with the goal of raising funds to benefit the Food for Thought/Kids First backpack program at the Pierce City School District. The program provides supplemental nutrition and other essentials for students in need.

Between donations from local businesses, the community and runner’s fees for approximately 45 participants, the Thanksgiving Day event netted $11,000. Decatur Lodge submitted the application for a double matching award of $22,000 from the Masonic Home of Missouri in Jefferson City, bringing the total to a whopping $33,000.

“Jami Lynn [Lawrimore] did a great job getting organized and soliciting local businesses to donate to the program,” Lodge Master Ryan Rakoski. “Between those local donations and the runner’s entry fees, we were able to raise the initial $11,000, and with the doubled matching funds from the Masonic Home of Missouri, we were able to triple our donation.”

However, the program’s recipients are not the only ones who will benefit from the effort.

“It’s my understanding that the students earning A+ credits will be helping to earn credits for college hours,” Rakoski said. “This is a really good program and a lot of people are involved. It helps a lot of kids.”

But the Decatur Lodge doesn’t stop giving there.

This year, two graduating seniors, one in Pierce City and the other in Purdy, received $500 scholarships for continuing education costs.

“We also support the Pierce City basketball camp and we recently sponsored a hole at the new disc golf course at South Park here in Pierce City,” he said. “We host a variety of fundraising events in order to be able to give back to the local community.”

Although the school district has not participated in the Food for Thought program since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the waves of variants that have compromised traditional learning strategies since March 2020, the 501 c 3 charitable organization continues to assist with local programs like Kids First, where the donated funds are used to provide not only food, but clothing, hygiene supplies and eyeglasses for students in need.

“The school’s Kids First program has seen local individuals or businesses contribute funds for those types of essentials,” said Kelli Alumbaugh, district superintendent. “If there is a need and the funds run low, I will simply pay for those items out of my own pocket.”

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