The Council of Higher Degrees, a part of the Fort Pierre Moose Lodge #1813 and Chapter #1497, has presented a case of Tommy Moose stuffed animals to each of five local organizations. The groups will in turn give the toys to children during stressful situations.

The presentations were held Saturday, March 14, during the March 12-15, 2020 Spring Conference of the Dakota Moose Association. The convention, held this year in Fort Pierre, concluded with a banquet and presentation of local donations. Approximately 120 people were registered for the conference, along with spouses, other family members and special guests.

“Each organization received a case — 12 in a case — thus 60 total were presented,” said Norma Tibbs, a Moose leader who coordinated the donations part of the conference. “The purpose is for all responders to have a Tommy Moose to give to children who are experiencing a traumatic situation.”

The five groups included:

The Fort Pierre Volunteer Fire Department. “We really appreciate this organization. The people are great,” said Tye Oddens, assistant fire chief. Oddens also happens to be a member of the local Moose lodge.

The Pierre Volunteer Fire Department. “These gifts for children are a definite addition to our resources,” said Paula Tronvold, deputy fire chief.

The Pierre Police Department and the Stanley County Sheriff’s Office.

The Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Center. In her thanking of the Moose Lodge for the donation, Sarah Reinhart, executive director of Missouri Shores, added, “Each year in this area about 700 women, children and men are helped by the Missouri Shores.”

The local Moose plans to expand the number of Tommy Moose cases in the future with some going to children’s wards in area hospitals, to emergency rooms and other trauma places.

The Spring Conference of the Dakota Moose Association included another presentation.

“We have also selected Missouri Shores for our Heart Of The Community project,” said Norma Tibbs, who is also vice president for the Council of Higher Degrees. “The Council has been collecting various items needed by Missouri Shores. This is separate from the Heart Of The Community project. Each Lodge that hosts a conference or convention chooses their own organization for presentations,” said Tibbs. These boxes of items were presented before the banquet. Reinhart also accepted for Missouri Shores the $1,183 raised during the convention for the cause.

Tibbs is also the Youth Awareness Chairperson for the Dakota Moose Association. During the conference, she coordinated a silent auction to raise scholarship funds for the program’s area high school students. The students deliver “kids talks” to four-to-nine year old students. The scholarships, on a national level, are between $2,000 and $12,000 per recipient.

“We are doing a lot of great things. It just takes money to get these things going,” said Mary Froning, Grand Regent of the Women of the Moose for all of the chapters in the United States, Great Britain and Canada.

The actual presenters from the Council were President Jody Huglen, Vice President Norma Tibbs, Secretary Colleen Hauf, Chaplain Tim Kearns, Junior Past President Kent Orvik and Sergeant at Arms Lucinda Boulard. The administrator of the Moose Lodge in Fort Pierre is George Wood.

According to information provided by Tibbs, the Dakota’s Council of Higher degrees was officially declared to have started in 2008, however it has been in force since 1957. The council aids chapters and lodges in retaining membership in the organization. It supports Mooseheart — a child city, Moosehaven — a retirement city and various Moose Charities through various fundraisers. “As members of the CHD, we should be in the forefront of support and promotion of Moose programs and lead the fraternalism by example,” said Tibbs.

“Mooseheart is our child city, with roughly 200 kids being raised there,” said Don Froning, Association Secretary, as well as the chairman of the International Heart of the Community. “Some kids have been there as long as 18 years. We don’t adopt; their guardians have asked us to give the kids a better way of life.” Mooseheart, Illinois, is 40 miles from Chicago. The Moose also fund Moosehaven, a retirement community and a senior retirement campus in Jacksonville, Florida.

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