2018-03-01 / Community News

Saco Masons challenge children to read


Saco Masons are encouraging area children to read books in an effort to win bicycles. From left, Andy Nightingale, Sorren Arneson, Sheldon Nightingale, Arthur Prentiss, Jason Galipeau, Mike Hopkins, Greg Maxwell, Andy Orr, Arthur Littlefield, Justin Galipeau, Steve Littlefield, Gerry Ouellette, Bob Maxfield and Mike Tremblay. (Courtesy photo) Saco Masons are encouraging area children to read books in an effort to win bicycles. From left, Andy Nightingale, Sorren Arneson, Sheldon Nightingale, Arthur Prentiss, Jason Galipeau, Mike Hopkins, Greg Maxwell, Andy Orr, Arthur Littlefield, Justin Galipeau, Steve Littlefield, Gerry Ouellette, Bob Maxfield and Mike Tremblay. (Courtesy photo) The third annual Bikes for Books program, now underway, teams up Saco Masonic Lodge with the Saco school system to develop a lifelong interest in reading for its second, third, fourth and fifth graders.

The program is very simple –students read books for the chance to win a new bike. The more books they read, the greater their chance of winning. All students, grades two through five, at Burns, Young, and Fairfield schools are eligible.

“When we first started this program, we gave away 60 bikes. Last year, due to our increased fundraising efforts, we were able to give away 90 bikes at the three schools,” says Andy Nightingale, coordinator of the program for Saco Masons.

Nightingale estimates that during the life of the program, at least 2,000 books have been read, with many children reading up to 30 books in their attempt to win a new bike.

The assembled bikes are brought to each school in May to announce the winners, and then the kids are encouraged to attend the annual Bike Rodeo, on May 19, hosted by the PTO, to pick up the bike, helmet and other gear and prizes. It is held at the Saco Public Works garage and also includes safety instructions from local police officers.

“This is one of the most rewarding programs I’ve ever been involved in. The huge smiles and excitement on the kid’s faces when they learn that they won has been priceless. We’ve even had a few of the winners give their bike to a less fortunate classmate that didn’t already own a bike,” Nightingale said.

“This makes our yearlong fundraising, bike assembly, and coordination efforts all worth it.”

This year, Saco Masons will use the proceeds from its annual golf tournament to help fund the program. The tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Dutch Elm Golf Course. Other fundraising efforts include Clynk bags for bottle redemption, raffles and support from local businesses.

Saco Masonic Lodge, chartered in 1802, is Saco’s oldest fraternity. They have been located on the third floor of Saco & Biddeford Savings Bank building on Main Street since 1909.

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