Bedford-area Freemasons provide free Child ID kits

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 8:02 am
By Denise Membreno
Area Freemasons are part of a national program to provide a comprehensive child identification and protection tool. The 24th District, which includes all the Masonic Lodges in Bedford County, is one of the only districts to offer the Virginia Child ID program in schools. The program is free to any family that wants to participate.
To participate is simple. Parents fill out a form with the child’s name, age and parental contact information.
The Masonic volunteers then get the child’s fingerprints, height and weight, and take his/her picture from the right, left, front and rear.
All of this information is saved on a CD, which is turned over along with a DNA swab kit for the parents to take home. The parents swab their child’s mouth, then put the swab in the envelope provided and store it in the refrigerator.
The Child ID Kit follows the exact procedures established by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the organization responsible for the “Amber Alert” national response system. All of the information collected is what law enforcement needs when a child goes missing.
“All the information we take in is burned on a CD for the parents,” said Keith Carver, local Freemason and VACHIP volunteer.
“No information is saved. It is erased when we go to the next child.”
Carver said a fellow Freemason was instrumental in getting the Child Identification Program into Bedford County Schools.
“We had tried to get in the schools before, but we didn’t know anybody and didn’t have much luck,” said Carver. “Henderson Lacy, one of our members in the Bedford Lodge in Moneta, does a lot of volunteer work in the schools, and when he came on board with the program, he gave it a shot with the schools, and then all of the sudden we were in schools.”
“They had another company that was doing the identity kits and charging $45 per child or $75 per child, and the problem is a lot of parents this day and age are out of work and can’t afford it,” Lacy said. “I thought we [the Freemasons] have this program and offer it free; why not try to get it in the schools.”
Lacy used his contacts and weeded through a lot of red tape before establishing the program in Bedford.
The Freemasons made ID kits for 88 children at Body Camp Elementary. At the next school, Moneta Elementary, 74 children signed up for the program. In August, the program will begin at Goodview Elementary.
“Parents have been greatly appreciative of it, and it gives them a sense of comfort to know they have it if they ever need it,” said Lacy.
Lacy has ID kits for both his children, but the program is not only for children. Any member of the family can sign on.
“When we did it at Body Camp, we actually had an older woman and we did her ID,” said Al Lawrence, local Freemason and VACHIP volunteer.
According to the Virginia Child Identification website, Mason lodges across the state have held 778 VACHIP events and provided 35,026 children with identification packets.
“We really work hard to offer this program,” said Lacy. “Many of the guys take off from work; give up a day’s pay to run these ID clinics.”
The 24th Masonic District includes Bedford Lodge #244 in Moneta, Liberty #95 in Bedford, Chamblissburg #179 in Chamblissburg, Mentow #180 in Huddleston and Forest #245 in Forest.

Reprinted from the Laker Weekly

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