Eagles dances benefit Bitterroot Valley charities

The Fraternal Order of Eagles has been in the Bitterroot Valley for nearly 100 years, and its membership is booming.

Now the group wants the community to see its many contributions, and to join in the fun.

To raise money for local nonprofit organizations and charities, the Eagles sponsor monthly dances. The next dance on their schedule is Dec. 31 – a New Year’s Eve Ball with proceeds benefitting Emma’s House, the Bitterroot Valley Children’s Advocacy Center.

Mario Torres is an Eagles member and one of the spearheads of the dance committee.

“We call it ‘Dancing for a Cause,’ ” said Torres. “It’s new for the Eagles Club – they were reluctant at first, but they loved it and embraced it. We’ll have a dance once a month and every single one will benefit some charitable organization.

“We think it’s a tremendous opportunity to let the community know that the Eagles are all about people helping people. We have had dances in the past and the economy hurt everyone, including the Eagles and our members, but we want to show that now is the time to bring the dances back.

“We decided to show the public specifically where their dollars are going – to charitable organizations.”

Eagles Auxiliary President Nita Adams said, “It’s nice for the community to know the Eagles is more than just a bar.”

The Fraternal Order of Eagles is an “international nonprofit organization uniting fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”

“The Eagles donate to numerous charities and they give back to the local communities through egg hunts, Halloween parities, holiday dinners,” said Torres. “We give to the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department annually; it’s giving back to the community in any way that we can.

“It’s a lodge and it is open to the public. We have a membership of 456 in the Bitterroot Valley. It’s an old lodge and I’m a new member and don’t know all the history. But it is an organization that is passed on generation to generation. I was 60 when I joined, and a 19-year-old was joining because his great-grandfather, grandfather and father were a part of it. It is something special and our main focus is giving back to the community so we want the community to see where their money is going.”

The Eagles Lodge No. 1693 held their first charity dance in November for the Montana Hope Project with the Northern Lights band.

“We were so pleased with the turn out at the November dance for the Hope Project and it just feels that it’s the right time to get out and promote these charities that do so much for our community,” Torres said.

The New Year’s Eve Ball will be from 8 p.m. to midnight, in the Eagles Lodge, 125 N. Second St., in Hamilton with a country western band from Darby called Hired Hand. The event is “formal.”

“We hope everyone dresses up a little bit more beyond Wranglers and cowboy shirts,” said Torres. “It is to benefit Emma’s House and we are holding a raffle with a gift basket and asking people to bring a non-perishable food item. For each one they bring, they get a raffle ticket. In the middle of the evening, we’ll hold the raffle. Admission is a $10 donation, and canned goods are welcome per person.

“We are planning to have the lodge’s bar open, things to nibble, hats and horns and traditional New Year’s Eve stuff like Champagne.”

To learn more visit their website: foe.com.

Hannah Honey