The Masonic Child Identification Program (ChIP), a charitable initiative by the North American Freemasons, was introduced to parents of Rainy River District for the first time on Friday and Saturday in conjunction with the Emo Walleye Classic.
The purpose of this program is to aid in the identification and recovery of missing children.
ChIP programs are supported monetarily at the Grand Lodge level, and are staffed by volunteers from subordinate lodges as well as law enforcement and dental professionals.
The Manitou Lodge arranged for eight special computers, donated by businesses in the Thunder Bay area, to be loaned to the Emo lodge for use in the first ChIP event in Rainy River District.
The program has been running successfully in Thunder Bay for a year-and-a-half.
This is only the second event in which the machines have been used outside of Thunder Bay.
Roughly 130 children had their parents bring them to this year’s event.
The program, which is absolutely free, creates a kit that contains a fingerprint card, a physical description, a video, computer disk, or DVD of the child, a dental imprint, and a DNA sample.
“We had hoped for even more participation,” admitted Ken McDonald, a member of the Manitou Lodge.
“We realize that some parents are cautious, but hope that they will see the benefits of such a program and will take part in the near future,” he added.
Two local dental hygienists volunteered their time to properly take the dental imprints and to collect the DNA sample of each child.
On hand to learn the program from the Thunder Bay lodge members and computer experts were Masonic Lodge members from Rainy River, Fort Frances, Kenora, and Atikokan.
Everyone who runs the computers and takes the information from the parents must have a police check before administering any part of the program.
All the data that is collected on the portable computers is automatically and completely removed from the machines after the DVD data has been written and turned over to the parents.
If the DVD or video is lost or damaged in any way, the parents/guardians simply can have another created free of charge by simply attending another Masonic child ID event.
All items and information created are the property of, and are immediately given to, the child’s parent or guardian to take home for safe keeping. No one involved in the program keeps any information.
The only paperwork kept by the Masonic Lodge is the signed permission form.
It is the responsibility of the parents to provide the package of identification information to law enforcement if their child goes missing.
If you were unable to bring your child to the EWC and still are interested in taking part in the program, feel free to contact Ken McDonald (483-5460), Dan Johnson (852-3695), or Allan Tibbetts (274-6689).
Similar events may be planned for other locations around the district.