Students read for 1,000 minutes, Limestone Masons reward them with bikes

12 years ago
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Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
From left, Dustin Nichols and Jacob Snell test out the new set of wheels they received by participating in the Bikes for Books program through the Limestone Masonic Lodge.

By Natalie Bazinet
Staff Writer

LIMESTONE — This is the third year that members of the Limestone Masonic Lodge have sponsored the Bikes for Books program in Limestone, and based on the jubilant screams and shouts of second-graders as they pedaled their bikes for the first time, it’s still a tremendous success.

Before the second-grade students of Rachel McGlinn and Jenny Theriault’s class could receive their new bikes, they first had to each read for 1,000 minutes.

Second-grader Serenity Fridel said that reading 1,000 minutes wasn’t too hard. She’s a pretty serious reader, and she elected to read her favorite Junie B. Jones books written by Barbara Park to meet the Masons’ challenge.

Her classmate Dustin Nichols, on the other hand, expressed that he’s a less serious reader.

“I don’t read much, but I read more for the bike; it was fun,” Nichols said. “My favorite book was one where you learn about fish; I read it a lot.”

Which is exactly what Masons of the Limestone Masonic Lodge want to hear.

Past Master of the Limestone Masonic Lodge Michael Dugal explained that the benefits of the Bikes for Books program are two-fold.

“We get them to read and enrich their lives, and it’s community service for us as well,” Dugal explained.

Limestone first began participating in the Bikes for Books program in 2009, under leadership of Limestone Masonic Lodge Master Tim Poitras. Continued by current Master Aaron Giberson, the program rewarded 13 students with bikes on May 24.

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Aroostook Republican photo/Natalie Bazinet
Once given the go-ahead to find their new bikes, these three didn’t waste a second — Limestone participants of the Bikes for Books program through the Limestone Masonic Lodge included, from left, the speed trio of Sierra Beaulieu, Dana Mignacca and Jacob Hancock hurried to find their bikes.

Dugal said that watching the kids rush toward their bike with excitement in their eyes makes the Bikes for Books project one of the Limestone Lodge’s favorite community service activities.

Every year, members of the Limestone Lodge hold a Bikes for Books fundraiser — this year, a public breakfast. As Bikes for Books is a statewide Masonic project, the Limestone Lodge’s fund-raising efforts were matched by the Grand Lodge of Maine.

“The Bikes for Books program is just for the bikes, but we buy them helmets as well,” Dugal said.

While reading 1,000 minutes sounded a bit daunting to the 7- and 8-year-olds, Theriault said that the program really does encourage the kids to read.

“It was really worth reading all those minutes!” said second-grader John Sitar. Sitar likes to read — particularly space books — and said that he was excited to take his bike for a spin with his dad.

While each student had various places they were excited to take their bike, each student also had a common message for the Limestone Masons who made their new bikes possible.

“Thank you for the bike,” Fridel said. “We worked really hard for them.”