The Helios Lodge was filled with giddy children, their stomachs full of macaroni and cheese, ham and butterflies from the wonder of what gifts awaited them inside the wrapping paper.
At Helios Lodge 273 on Dec. 11, Cambridge Freemasons, members of the Refuge Network, Landmark Community Bank and Santa Claus helped pass Christmas presents out to children.
As grins stretched around the room, shreds of holiday gift wrap fell to the floor like confetti in a Macy’s Holiday Parade. They then shared their smiles with the onlooking eyes of adult volunteers as they peered at their gifts.
Since 1991, Landmark Community Bank has helped raise the holiday spirits for the women and children of the Refuge Network. To date, they have sponsored over 1,100 children with through their Giving Tree, where the staff and customers of Landmark donate presents.
The Refuge Network was co-founded 26 years ago by co-owner of Landmark Community Bank Margaret Johnson-Barr, along with Nancy Peterson.
The Freemasons of Helios Lodge 273 helped joined the movement 12 years ago, according to shelter coordinator Char Weidendorf.
“We are very appreciative of what these guys do,” Weidendorf said.
This year, approximately 90 people attended, almost half of which were children. Aside from the children getting what the wanted; they also received things that they needed, such as gloves and mittens, coats, hats and scarves, and also homemade quilts and bears (which were made and donated by a local church).
The children were not the only ones to receive gifts. Presents were also made available to the mothers in the form of makeup kits from Mary Kaye, digital cookbooks, travel kits and photo albums.
The Refuge Network offers emergency shelter for Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec counties. They will help anyone in need, survivors, and their children.
This inspirational community support, however, is waning and shrinking. To help support of gain more information on The Refuge Network, visit www.therefugenetwork.org or call 763-689-3532.
The 24-hour, toll-free crisis hotline is 1-800-338-SAFE (7233). Advocates are available 24 hours a day. All services are free and confidential.
For more information on the Freemasons of Cambridge, visit http://helioslodge273.org