BONNERS FERRY — On a drizzling spring weekend, people gathered early at the back door of the Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) Aerie #3522 in Bonners Ferry on Friday, April 5, to enjoy the annual Rummage and Bake sale. The sale continued on Saturday with all of the proceeds going directly to the Boundary County Library.
The sale was made up from items donated by Eagles members, and the baked goods are also made by members.
“Some don’t have families anymore so they get a chance to spread their wings a little bit and bring down all their home baked goods,” said Eagles Auxiliary Secretary Kathy McPherson about the bake sale which featured items such as pies and banana bread. “We make almost as much on that as we do our rummage sale. It just a really heartwarming thing.”
The rummage sale itself was unique, as no item had a price tag on it. They used to price everything but have found a new system that not only works better for them, but also helps people in the community.
“We don’t put prices on anything. We did for a while but we decided that it was too time consuming and everyone wants to barter anyway, so we just tell them that all of these proceeds are going to our library or wherever,” said McPherson.
Instead, they ask people to donate whatever they can.
“Some people can’t afford a lot and some people can afford a little more,” explained McPherson. “Rather than discouraging people who are on a very fixed or limited income, we try to make it fair to them — what it is worth to them.”
“We have people who can barely afford their rent, and then we have others that are more affluent and can afford whatever, and they still come in,” said McPherson. “We don’t want to discourage our people of lower income. We want them to feel like they can still come in and browse around.”
At the end, anything not sold is packed up in boxes and donated to Second Chance Animal Adoption.
“Nothing is wasted. Nothing goes in the trash bin unless it is broken or doesn’t work,” said McPherson.
The rummage and bake sale is enjoyed by the members as much as it is by the visitors.
“The fun part is watching people browse through and talking to them when they come in,” said McPherson. “Some of them have very interesting stories.”
The motto of the Eagles is, “People helping people,” and our local Aerie is no exception.
“Everything we do is to help our people and organizations within the community,” explained McPherson.
They fundraise and donate to many causes, from non-profit organizations to individual community members in need. They also hold a breakfast every month, from September through June, that is open to the public. The food is all donated and the proceeds from each breakfast goes toward a specific fundraiser.
They also hold other events for fundraising based on need, including auctions. One auction that they held brought in more than $14,000.
The Eagles Aerie can also be seen down at the Boundary County Fairgrounds, at various events, in a booth selling cotton candy and snow cones. All the proceeds from those sales go to the youth charities, such as soccer clubs, or cub scouts, or 4-H. The groups can put in a request for funding and the Eagles divide the money up between them, which normally totals around $3,000 to $4,000 a year.
The Eagles is a private club, but they welcome community minded people to join. A new member must be sponsored by two current Eagles members. Although the Social Room is closed to non-club members, prospects are welcome to come in and be signed in, at which time they will be introduced to other members.
“If they don’t know anybody, the server will sign them in and we try to introduce them to some people so they can sit and talk to them, and explain to them what we are about, what we are here for, and why we want to help our community,” said McPherson. “We want people who are interested in doing fundraisers or helping in any way.”
McPherson explained that it was fairly simple to join.
“We welcome people. We are family orientated, we are basically a happy group,” she said.
When joining, people either become an Aerie member or an Auxiliary member. Originally, all Aerie members were men, and the Auxiliary was for women, but that has changed over the last few years. Now women may apply to be Aerie members.
“We are brothers and sisters, whether you are an Aerie member or an Auxiliary member, it really doesn’t matter — you are an Eagle,” said McPherson.
Once a member, the Eagles states that members become like sisters and brothers, and that reaches across the country. The members work together to better the community, one person or organization at a time. Although most of the fundraising stays in the community, there are some larger nonprofit organizations that they support as well, such as the Lew Reed Spinal Cord Injury Fund.
For members joining in Boundary County, they have access to the Social Room, where members can share ideas.
“We don’t get into politics, we don’t get into heavy duty religious things,” explained McPherson. “We don’t discriminate against any of that, we just prefer to not have that be a center of our conversations in our Social Room.”
Instead, many use the venue to discuss things such as gardening or share stories of their families. The largest benefit for joining is having an outlet and the ability to help other people.
“Not only do we help our Eagle members, because they are our brothers and sisters, but we help anybody in the community, whether it is somebody that we met, or know, or somebody that we have heard about,” said McPherson.
The Fraternity Order of Eagles, Aerie #3522 in Bonners Ferry, is located at 7159 Second St. Phone: 208-267-3024.