Moose Lodge Offers Fish Fries, Fund-Raising And Friendship

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The Moose Lodge in Star Valley, tucked away among a gentlemen's club, the fire department and a storage place, is more than your grandfather's watering hole.

Instead, 340 local members of all ages, from all walks of life, join together to raise money for children, senior citizens and the community.

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Steve Bell will be installed as chapter governor of the Moose Lodge in Star Valley on April 23.

And Steve Bell, who will be installed as chapter governor April 23, will oversee the organization's altruistic goals for the upcoming year.

"Because of the community service, we have an extremely diverse number of people," Bell said. "We'll continue doing fund-raising for our charities, and we've been talking about some new things, but nothing has been decided."

Bell's wife, Carol, assumes the post of senior regent, the highest office held by a woman.

The Moose Lodge opened its doors in 1981.

Photographs of sixteen of Bell's predecessors -- many with rough-hewn faces shaded by cowboy hats -- hang in a line high above a shrine of plaques, awards and accolades.

Senior regents, likewise, adorn the wall across the dance floor.

The Loyal Order of Moose, or just "the Moose" as the members call it, actually comprises two factions underneath the umbrella organization.

The ladies belong to Women of the Moose, WOTM, and men, the Loyal Order of Moose, also known as LOOM.

"If it weren't for WOTM, we wouldn't survive," said Bell.

In the Moose, men and women share equal responsibility without segregation.

"It's a very tight group," said Carol. "To become a member you have to be sponsored."

The life of a Moose involves Thursday night fish fries, fund-raising drives, children's events, parties and the occasional cocktail for the adults in the social quarters.

Christmas marks the summit of the Moose's year.

In 2005, nearly 200 bicycles rolled into the lodge. Santa rode in on a fire truck and handed out bikes to needy children.

"We had such a wonderful time," Carol said. "All the children got a present. We had such an enormous amount of gifts this year, we filled the back of a truck and took it to the Time Out Shelter."

And the fun doesn't end at Christmas. The Moose celebrates every major holiday with a fete, a feast and, depending on the event, a fund-raiser.

WOTM and LOOM also provide $500 scholarships to students and the men cook for the women on Mother's Day.

Though the Bells said the Moose supports the incorporation of Star Valley, members generally stay out of local politics.

Phyllis Garrett donates her time in the kitchen. She said she's met great friends and appreciates the camaraderie.

"I just love to cook," Garrett said. "I don't like politics. That's why I stay in the kitchen."

Longtime LOOM Rich Boussom has walked the social quarter and dining hall of the Moose Lodge in Star Valley for 22 years, which began after an 18-year stint in Alaska.

"We're all brothers," Boussom said. "Christmas is my favorite event, for sure. There's nothing better than to look at those kids' eyes when they get their presents."

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