The Fraternal Order of the Eagles was founded on Feb. 6, 1898 by a group of theater owners who were faced with dealing with a strike situation. In April, 1898, the name Fraternal Order of Eagles was adopted. The membership slowly grew away from the theater personnel who had founded the group and began to become a cross section of the general population.

Since its founding in 1898 the Eagles have been concerned and strongly involved in social welfare. In 1904, the idea of a national day to honor mothers was born with the Eagles and support grew for the idea. In 1914 legislation was passed to make Mother’s Day a reality.

In 1935 the Eagles threw strong support behind the movement to establish the Social Security program. By 1954, the Eagles had placed 10,000 plaques for the Ten Commandments. In 1985 Eagles contributions to St. Jude Children’s Hospital topped $1,000,000. The Eagles in 1991 supported Operation Desert Storm by running a mail campaign for the military personnel and also sending out food boxes.

The Eagles had established the Max Baer Heart Fund, named for the former boxing champion and Eagles member who died from a heart attack. The fund supports research in heart related diseases. When it was proven in 1978 that there was a link between heart disease and diabetes, the Eagles founded the Robert W. Hansen Diabetes Fund to support diabetes research in the hope of finding a cure. By 2008 Eagles gift commitment to the Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa reached $25,000,000.

There are also funding programs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research, and other diseases.

Seven past United States Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan have been members of the Eagles.

In each community that supports an Eagles Aerie, or lodge, the Eagles are heavily involved in supporting both Eagles programs and local citizens in need. The Eagles statement, “People Helping People” was very evident in Orange this past Saturday when the local Eagles sponsored a fundraiser for the City of Refuge, the shelter for homeless veterans.

Eagles Aerie 2523 of Orange is probably the most efficient fund raising group in the area. The members are quick to volunteer to help any worthwhile effort and have a great deal experience in planning and conducting benefits.

Because of the quality and integrity of the Eagles group their benefit fundraisers are always well attended and there is no shortage of locals who donate to the auctions that are held along with the meals served. This Saturday’s event was no exception. There were four bands slated to perform, nearly 100 items to be auctioned, a freezer package of meat from Danny’s Grocery was donated for a drawing. J.B.’s Barbecue donated six smoked turkeys for auction. There was a 50/50 raffle and of course the Eagles famous Barbecue plates.

Three Legged Dawg kicked off the music for the day. When they took their first break, Eagles member Johnny Gill became the “volunteered” auctioneer and things began to get serious. Gill persuaded the crowd to open their pocket books and spend for the cause.

As people came in to eat, listen to the music, bid on the auction, and just visit one thing stood out– there were people helping people. The auction items sold for good prices, with smoked turkeys selling for as much as $50, the buckets for the drawings on the meat packages and 50/50 filled up. Barbecue plates sold well. When the money was totaled, $7771 had been raised for the City of Refuge.

The benefit was originally scheduled to be held at the Eagles Aerie on 28th Street, but to give more room American Legion Post 49 offered the use of their post home.

The Lutcher Stark ’64 Veterans Association had several members attending. Lloyd McDonald, a member and a retired Army 1st Sgt drove from San Antonio to attend and visit with fellow vets. The Start group has been a supporter of the COR, and gave a picnic for the residents last March.

Members of motorcycle clubs are big hearted and generous. At almost any benefit there are clubs represented, this was no different, the American Legion Riders, Revelators Motorcycle Ministry, Patriot Guard Riders, Vietnam Veterans Riders, and the Eagle Riders all had club members attending.

The Eagle Riders are a new motorcycle club in the area. They have only been formed for one year. The local club is a part of the national Eagle Riders organization, sponsored by the Eagles.

All the riders are members of the Eagles Aerie. Forty-eight members strong at present, they are the only club in this Eagles district. Among their activities are benefits such as this one, fun runs and funeral escorts. You do not have to own a bike or ride a bike to become a member of the Eagle Riders. One only needs to have a commitment to serve.

Current officers of the Eagle Riders are: President, Tim Murphy; Vice President, Bobby Bellar; Sergeant at Arms, David Tincher; Secretary, Patty Ferguson; Treasurer, Joyce Kinder; Ride Captains, George Ferguson and Christian Marler.

For information about joining the Eagles you may go to their website: , or call:409-886-7381.

The Eagles Aerie is located at 803 28th Street in Orange.