Freemasons’ Bike for Books campaign returns

8 years ago
HOULTON, Maine — Area schoolchildren will once again have an opportunity to score a new bicycle if they read books, thanks to the local lodge of Freemasons.

Now in its fifth year, Monument Lodge No. 96 in Houlton has given away countless bicycles to local youth through the “Bikes for Books” program.

“It has grown every year,” said Jody Anderson, a member of Monument Lodge No. 96. “It has been so well received by the local schools, as well as the kids.”

In its first year, the program gave away six bikes to students in one grade level in two schools. Since then, it has expanded to where the Houlton Lodge is now giving away 40 new bicycles and helmets to students in grades pre-K through eighth-grade at Houlton Elementary, Houlton Southside and Houlton Middle schools.

Students in Southern Aroostook Community School are also participating through a separate Masonic Lodge.

“This is a nationwide program,” Anderson explained. “The Grand Lodge supports this program nicely. We receive a grant to help pay for the bikes. Plus we do fundraising locally so we can purchase more bikes.”

The Houlton Masons assemble each bicycle they give away. The participating school bears no expense for the program.

According to the Masons’ website, the Charitable Foundation of the Grand Lodge of Maine sponsors the Masonic Bikes for Books program to encourage students to read. This year alone approximately 90 Masonic Lodges throughout Maine will present nearly 1,500 bicycles to children participating in reading programs in local schools and public libraries.

To participate, a student must read three books to receive an entry form. The more books they read, the more entry forms the student receives.

“The idea behind this program is to encourage children to read, with the incentive being the chance to win a new bike,” Anderson said. “The teachers of each classroom remain in complete control of all reading curriculum. Once a student has read three books, he or she can fill out an entry card and put it in the box assigned to their grade.”

Evidence shows that schools participating in the program are witnessing improved reading scores among their students, according to the Masons’ website. Books also enlighten, inspire, bring happiness and success, challenge our perspectives and provide comfort at difficult times in our lives.

It’s essential to establish a love for reading early in life. Towards that end, Masons in Maine are happy to bring the Masonic Bikes for Books program to students throughout Maine’s elementary and middle schools. The objectives of the program are threefold:

— to increase student reading and comprehension skills.

— to recognize positive student achievements.

— to provide an attainable goal, with life enhancing results.

The winners will be announced during an assembly in each school.

For more information, please see the Masonic Bikes for Books Facebook.