Masons organizing relief effort


David Hughes, master at the Shepherd-Salem No. 78 of Naugatuck, poses for a photograph inside their lodge Saturday morning in Naugatuck. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — Members of the Shepherd Salem Lodge No. 78 of Naugatuck are mobilizing disaster relief efforts to deliver essentials to people hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy in the New York and New Jersey areas.

David Hughes, master of the lodge, said those in that area have more of a need. The Mason’s purpose is charity and giving back, and this is one way to make an impact, he said.

“We wish we could be making a delivery tomorrow, but we need a little bit of time to mobilize,” Hughes said. “We don’t have the resources on hand.”

Hughes sent an email Friday to lodge officers and others to meet Saturday at the lodge at 130 Church St. On Saturday morning, members began putting together a plan and assigning tasks.

The lodge plans to make a delivery Sunday, Hughes said.

Founded in 1851, the Shepherd Salem Lodge, which has close to 100 members, is the oldest fraternal organization in Naugatuck, said Jim O’Donnell, senior deacon and a local business owner. It has a history of making charitable contributions going back to the Civil War, he said.

Hughes, of Watertown who owns Rockwell Studio of Photography at 191 Church St., said his studio, which serves clients in the area including Naugatuck, Oxford and Waterbury, will be a drop-off site. It will be staffed 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. To arrange a pickup, call (203) 729-5959.

He is seeking other locations to be drop-off sites. The Maple Street firehouse will serve as a drop-off location, too.

The following list of items will be collected: toilet paper, bottled water, nonperishable food items, baby products such as formula, diapers and wipes, hand sanitizers/wet wipes, personal hygiene products, batteries, flashlights, hand warmers, matches/lighters, candles, pet food, paper products and any size generators.

Signs will be posted at exit ramps in the borough to direct people to disaster relief drop-off areas, Hughes said.

Two lodge officers who also are police officers, Lt. Brian Newman and Officer Chip Schofield will ask local grocery stores to see if they would allow them to set up outside to collect items.

The lodge also will contact local churches and parishes to see if they will appeal to their members for donations, Hughes said. The lodge will arrange to pick up donations before departing next Sunday, he said.

Additionally, the lodge will appeal to neighboring lodges in Seymour and Waterbury for donations, which some have already committed to, Hughes said.

The lodge is looking to secure some box trucks, as well, he said.

Hughes said the lodge has a few barriers it will need to overcome such as the shortage of fuel. Once they get down there, members will need to have a plan to return because they won’t be able to transport fuel to the area, he said.

During this week, the lodge will assess where it will make the delivery and how it will distribute the food, Hughes said.

He said it is looking to deliver items to the communities down there through a Mason member in Staten Island, N.Y.