DESLOGE — Usually, it’s the Bingo players that walk away from the Desloge Eagles hall with a handful of money. On Sunday, it was police and firefighters because of the Bingo players.
On Sunday afternoon, the Desloge Eagles presented $2,500 to the BackStoppers organization of St. Francois County and $2,500 to the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Association’s Shop With a Cop program.
The Desloge Eagles Aerie 3350 and the auxiliary have also presented a check for $5,000 to St. Jude’s Medical Research program.
Red Rawson, vice president of the Desloge Eagles Aerie 3500 and bingo chairman, said they raised all the money from bingo.
“The local people playing bingo allows us to give money,” Rawson said. “These are all good programs.”
Dave Pratte, chief of Big River Fire Department and president of the local BackStoppers group, said he is very grateful for the Desloge Eagles’ support.
BackStoppers is an organization that provides for the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. St. Francois County is one of only a few counties in the state that have obtained BackStoppers membership.
Pratte said he considers it a privilege to be a part of that organization. He said St. Francois County police and fire departments could not take care of fallen police officers and firefighters’ families the way BackStoppers can.
Desloge Police Chief James Bullock said having BackStoppers gives his officers peace of mind.
Pratte and Sheriff Dan Bullock said the Eagles have always been supportive of police and firefighters.
With a goal of $40,000 for the Shop With a Cop program this year, the $2,500 donation from the Desloge Eagles was an appreciated boost.
The sheriff’s department has organized this program for more than a decade. The first year, 76 children participated. Last year, there were 380 and they are planning on 400 this year.
The Shop With A Cop program helps area children from low-income families for the holidays. The children are referred to Shop With a Cop by several agencies including the schools, Head Start, the women’s shelter, and East Missouri Action Agency. The selected children receive $100 tax free to spend during a shopping spree at Wal-Mart just prior to Christmas break.
Not only do the children buy clothes and toys for themselves, they also buy gifts for siblings or parents.
Sheriff’s Association President Rod Harris said with this donation, they have $32,000 more to raise. He said people were very generous at both the July 4 festival in Bismarck and the grand opening of the county annex building. All of the money they raise for Shop With a Cop goes to Shop with a Cop, Sheriff Bullock pointed out.
Currently, they are taking donations for a Yamaha Bruin 250, a full-size four-wheeler, which will be given away the first part of November. They will have booths at the county fair and the Desloge Labor Day picnic. Donations will also be accepted at the sheriff’s department. For more information, call (573) 431-2777.
The auxiliary made the donation to St. Jude’s at Ann Stegall’s urging. Stegall, who is the auxiliary secretary and former state president, said seeing the children at the hospital just breaks her heart.
Stegall said they were able to make these donations because “we had a good year this year.”
She said doing this makes her proud to be a part of the organization. She said it is good to know that they can help others.
Rawson said it is not uncommon for them to donate to charities such as the cancer and heart funds but they are especially proud of these donations.
Stegall said the Eagles does a lot for charities. The local Eagles group in Desloge also donated money to a Desloge baseball team and raised $500 for the Washington County Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome advocacy.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded in 1898 and since that time has given more than a hundred million dollars to local and national charities ranging from buying schools supplies for homeless children to donations for the St. Jude Children’s Research center.
The Eagles have an insurance program for members killed while on their jobs.