Charity is considered to be the distinguishing characteristic of a Freemason and although not a charity itself, millions of pounds are raised each year for charity by Masons.
But what a lot of people do not know is that a lot of that money is also given to non-Masonic Charities.
Each year the United Grand Lodge of England has an annual festival which is supported by one of its provinces.
Each province decides when the fund raising will start and how long it will run for (usually between five & eight years).
East Kent launched its festival in September 2008.
This is set to run for six years and the target is £3 million.
St Johns Thanet Lodge has set its own target for contributions to the festival at £16,250.
To achieve this target will need the support of each and every member and the use of Gift Aid is particularly encouraged as at this moment in time 28% can be recovered from HM Customs and Revenue, if the member is a tax payer.
In St Johns Thanet Lodge (as is the case in most lodges) the incoming Worshipful Master each year chooses the charities that will benefit from fund raising events organised throughout "His Year"
St Johns Thanet Lodge fund raising events held over the years have raised thousands of pounds for: Kent Air Ambulance. The Samaritans, Scouts, Prostate Cancer Association, TLC Appeal, QEQM Cancer Care, British Heart Foundation, Pilgrims Hospice Paula Carr Diabetic Trust, Riding for the Disabled, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, The Williams Syndrome Foundation and Macmillan Support to name but a few.
St Johns Thanet Lodge also looks after nineteen widows of deceased members and sends a small gift and a card to each and every one of them at Christmas.
TLC Appeal (Teddies for Loving Care)
The simple objective is to provide teddy bears and soft toys to Accident and Emergency units, for the medical staff to give to children who are in distress, to soothe and calm them.
The simple act of giving a bear to a child is happening every day in every A&E department and minor injury unit throughout East Kent and, in the four and a half years since the appeal started, 47,000 teddy bears have been donated by Freemasons.
Masonic Charities administered from Grand Lodge
The Grand Charity
Assists both Freemasons and their Dependants.
The Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Works to alleviate poverty and advance education, principally for the children of Masonic families in need.
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
Provides care and support to Freemasons and their Dependants.
The Masonic Samaritan Fund
Assists principally with the cost of private medical treatment.
Local Charities in the Province of East Kent
The East Kent Provincial Charities Association (The EKPCA)
Receives manages and disburses charitable monies, principally on behalf of individual brethren and Lodges and offers support and guidance to Lodge Charity Stewards and Almoners.
The Provincial Grand Master's Charity
Disburses its money at the discretion of the Provincial Grand Master.