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Sharing the spirit of Christmas

The Prineville Eagles Lodge offers a free breakfast and a visit with Santa on Christmas day

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Santa will be on hand at the Eagles free breakfast.

On Christmas Day, local businesses and organizations typically close their doors in order to enable their staff to spend time with friends and family.
   The Prineville Eagles, by contrast, have chosen that day to welcome community members to their lodge for a free breakfast and some face time with Santa Claus.
   “Our main project and our motto is, ‘People helping people,’” explained Eagles Junior Past President Mardee Carter. “In this community, there are a tremendous amount of people who have nothing for the holidays – and nobody.”
   With that in mind, she decided the Eagles should offer a Christmas Day breakfast.
   “This may be the only meal that they have.”
   Eagles members start their Christmas morning at the lodge, showing up around 5 a.m. to start cooking. The meal will include a variety of breakfast favorites including scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, and biscuits and gravy, along with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
   After the meal, the Eagles will invite children to visit Santa Claus and take a toy from his sack. The idea was inspired in part by their commitment to the KIDS Center, which provides assistance for physically and sexually abused children.
   The Eagles began providing the breakfast four years ago, and they have seen it grow in the years since. Last Christmas, 186 people visited their lodge during the four-hour event.
   “It is a continuum from the time that we open,” Carter said.
   The constant stream of breakfast patrons keeps the Eagles Lodge hopping, but members concede that the children with Santa on the brain really liven up the place.
   “They run in here and look at it snow,” said former Eagles officer Sheri Beardsley, gesturing to a six-foot-tall inflatable snow globe just inside the door. Then the children start checking out Kris Kringle.
   “They are a little timid at first,” Beardsley said. “They have to look at him. They have to check him out. They have to see if any other kids go up there – and then it starts.”
   For Eagles members, their favorite part of hosting the breakfast is the opportunity it provides them to give back to their community. Aerie President Steve Loney pointed out that the Eagles contribute to multiple charitable organizations nationwide throughout the year, but they particularly enjoy giving back to Prineville.
   “I think the most fun for us is doing things for people that we know,” he said.
   The Prineville Eagles will host their Community Christmas Breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. The breakfast is provided free of charge. The Eagles Lodge is located at 235 N.E. Fourth St.