Last brought to South Dundas in 2008, the important and well received MasoniCh.I.P Child ID Program is being brought back to the area this year.
MasoniCh.I.P is a program whereby the local Masonic Lodge, free of charge, welcomes families to have information about their children gathered that will be invaluable should the child ever go missing.
“It is our sincerest hope that no family will need the resource provided in our packets, but if the need should arise, the information on the CD, that you are provided through our program, will be instrumental to law enforcement agencies in the recovery of a missing child.
It only takes 42 seconds from the time the CD-Rom is loaded into the police computer for the Amber Alert broadcast to be sent throughout North America,” reads a press release from the Masons.
Don Salt, a member of the local MasoniCH.I.P clinic organizing committee, with the Iroquois-Cardinal Masons, Friendly Brothers Masonic Lodge #143, said that the first in a series of clinics that will be held throughout the year will take place April 19 and 20.
They will have the clinic set up in a booth at the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce Home and Trade Show at the Morrisburg Arena.
In 2008, about 300 children participated in the local clinics and the Masons are hoping that they will be as well received this time around.
“The children who were done at the last clinics, should be re-done,” said Salt, as they have certainly changed in five years.
While some of the information stays the same, such as DNA and fingerprints, updating information such as height, weight and photos is very important.
Salt, who is a retired law enforcement officer, stresses the importance of this information and says that parents should try and get their teenage girls to participate in the program.
“To put it bluntly, they are the group at the highest risk,” says Salt.
Salt hopes that parents of all children, no matter the age, will seriously consider bringing them to the clinic at the trade show this weekend.
The MasoniCh.I.P. Child ID Program consists of five major components – vital child information, digital fingerprints, digital photographs, a digital video and swab for DNA.
All of this data is burned on to a CD, and given to the parents or guardian.
Security and privacy are of the utmost importance; therefore, it is significant to note that the Ontario Masons keep nothing on file, with the exception of the permission form signed by the parent, prior to participation in any event.
It costs the Masons about $3 per child to gather the information for parents, a cost which the local Masons Lodge gladly covers.
“If it helps find one child, it is more than worth it,” said Salt.
The organizing committee plans to set up a couple of other clinics locally later this year; one at the South Dundas Soccer Tournament in Iroquois and one at Williamsburg Harvestfest.