BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A new program is being implemented this year with Moose International offering free first-year dues to all emergency and military personnel.
The local Fort Madison lodge is participating in the program and is hoping to provide a social outlet for the area’s firefighters, law enforcement and rescue pesonnel, and all active and retired military personnel.
Mike Luton, the administrator for the local Moose Lodge in Fort Madison, said the program is an extension started this year off the military waiver.
“Actually we just started it earlier this year and was supposed to run until the end of April and we will continue it to the end of the year. And this is a program that all Moose Lodges are doing, not just ours,” Luton said.
Normally, first year membership is $50 dues and a $20 administration fee. Dues would renew every year, but the administration is just the one year. They are waiving the first year.
“Actually, it’s in appreciation for what they do. It’s an outgrowth of our vets appreciation program. They started last year with a program of appreciation of the veterans. Mainly recognition, but this kind of grew out of that concept. To show support for people for what they are doing for the community. ”
Luton, an E-6 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, said he likes the program because it provides an opportunity to thank those who rarely get thanked.
“Normally don’t show our appreciation for these people. Not as much as we should and this gives us a chance to do that,” he said.
In addition to giving something back to those that serve every day, he said the funds raised by the Moose go, in part, to helping support Special Olympics, helping disadvantaged children, safe Internet browsing programs, and funding bullet-proof vests for law enforcement.
“We’re basically a charitable organization. We try to raise money for Moose Heart which aims to help children from disadvantaged homes. Kids that have the mental capability but because of disadvantages they are not living up to their potential. We also support fingerprinting kits and things like that. They have a mobile fingerprinting set up.”
Luton said he’s relatively new to the program along with governor of the Moose, both having just under a year under their belts.
“We’re going to work harder at letting people know what the organization is and what we support and what those groups do,” he said. “I just spoke with our regional manager a couple weeks ago to help communicate that information better. Our social quarters here are kind of like a big family. It’s a good place for families to come and kick back and relax. Find some social support.”
The local Moose is a private club, but Luton said the application process is open to anyone except those with a felony on their record.
“It’s important for us to keep this a safe and fun environment,” he said.
For more information contact Luton at 319 372-4351.