De Soto Masons offer child ID program, seeks donations
Mason Grand Master Sterling P. Hornbuckle III visited the De Soto lodge May 19 to present the Child Identification Program. The program was started in New York in 1994, and the Masons now offer the service in 20 states. The grand master introduced the program to many lodges in Kansas late last year, and he reported that the program is doing very well with 19 lodges having a total of 31 computers to implement CHIP.
Kansas CHIP events provide the program free of charge to the public. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recognizes the Masonic CHIP program as one of the most complete child recovery and identification programs in the nation. The program operates in cooperation with the Kansas Sheriffs Association and the Kansas Dental Association. In 1999 alone, more than 797,000 children were reported missing in the United States, and on average, a child is reported missing every 43 seconds. Most parents don't have the proper identification items ready at the time they are needed to help save their child's life.
At a Masonic CHIP event, Masons generate complete individual child identification kits that are provided for the parent or guardian to take home for safekeeping. The child progresses through various stations at the event, generating identification items to be placed in his or her kit. This process usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The items include a DNA cheek swab, fingerprints, dental impression, video imaged interview, and digital still photo. The events are conducted at schools, shopping malls, and city fairs.
Our lodge made the commitment to buy two units for approximately $2,700 each. Each unit consists of a camera, computer with CD recorder and a printer. We are hoping to receive donations from members and the public to initiate the program in time for the De Soto Days festival during Labor Day weekend.
Duke Neeland, junior warden
Lodge No. 40, De Soto