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Shriners get new cookwagon

Cowichan Valley shriners are hoping people heed nutritionists' advice that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

The group recently purchased a new cookwagon and is planning on focusing more on breakfasts than the normal fishing derbies, ball games and school events they're famous for, said shriner Glenn Harvey.

"In the past, we've done ball tournaments, served hot dogs and burgers, our plans are to serve breakfasts...so we have more functions but less time requirements," he said. "We are looking for opportunities to provide a service to earn dollars for our hospitals."

During the coming year, the group would like to serve breakfasts at six to eight events.

Formed in 1914, the international organization is a philanthropic group of masons that operates 22 hospitals for children throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico. Harvey said Shrine hospitals provide the most advanced care for children at no cost to the patient or parents and spend about $1.8 million a day doing so. The local chapter recently celebrated 50 years in the Cowichan Valley.

Children needing surgery or care for a variety of health issues — cleft palates, spinal chord injuries and burns, to name just a few — benefit from the fundraising done by the service organization.

Locally, 90% of the $30,000 to $50,000 raised annually goes towards transporting Cowichan Valley children to other hospitals for care. The Shriners provide transportation to Vancouver Children's Hospital and Shriners Hospitals in Spokane Washington and Portland Oregon for any children who require it with no cost to the patient or parents.

Where the remaining 10% goes locally is at the local chapter's discretion. Harvey said since 1964 more than $100,000 has been donated to the children's ward at Cowichan District Hospital.The new cook wagon, which cost $20,000, was necessary because of Ministry of Health safe food preparation regulations, he said.

"If the health regulations don't change, we hope this wagon will last for 20 to 30 years," Harvey said.

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