Freemasons Community Relief has a history of delivering food parcels in the community that goes back 60 years. At Christmas time in 1963, Lodge St Leonard distributed 50 parcels to Freemasons and community members who had fallen on hard times. They were joined by Lodge Cerberus in 1974. The invitation to become involved was extended to all Masonic Lodges meeting in the Sandringham Temple in 1977 and by the 1980s, they were delivering more than 150 parcels a year across the Bayside area, and 250 by the mid-80s. Back then, it was known as Bayside Masonic Lodges Christmas Parcels.
The name changed to Freemasons Community Relief (FCR) in 2019, as the need for support continued to grow in the community. Grant Chapple, Freemasons Community Relief Secretary, said what started out as Christmas parcels full of food and plum puddings, grew to include a mid-year drop in the last five or six years, and shot up further still when COVID hit.
“With the pandemic, it became difficult to deliver hampers to the charities we support. So, in 2021 the committee investigated sending grocery vouchers for distribution to the needy. This has proved quite successful and enabled us to continue our support even when the food chain supply has faltered due to shortages.
“When we are able to do hampers, FCR supplies green and yellow bags filled with different food and beverage items to be distributed to each needy person or family.”
FCR used to hand deliver the parcels but this is now done through 16 charity groups from St Kilda to Hastings. They also support Freemasons and their families who are in need and each year ask Lodges to advise the committee if they believe any of their members need support.
Even with the pandemic largely in the past, in light of cost of living increases, the need for support hasn’t abated. Bayside Lodges fundraise for the parcels and Masonic Grants provide additional funding so they can reach as many people as possible.
“Getting donations to the value that we want to provide through our charity is no easy feat. The Freemasons Foundation has made life a lot easier for us - they’ve been a godsend.”
“Without the Freemasons Foundation and Masonic Lodges support our group would have ceased to exist!”