ALPENA - Hopper Masonic Lodge #199 will conduct two free child identification programs on Aug. 14 from 2-6 p.m. at the Alpena County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the Alpena County Fair and Aug. 20 from 2-6 p.m. at the Alpena Mall as a part of the Alpena Public Schools' "Back to School" event.
Michigan Masons throughout the state oversee the program.
"It's something we can do for the community," Alpena Hopper Lodge Worshipful Master Brian Heldt said.
Parents and children can expect to receive individual attention and detailed instructions to complete the necessary paperwork including a permission slip. Each child receives a dental impression and a CD that contains a photo, video, digital fingerprints and their vital information.
Heldt said the dental records include DNA information that lasts for up to seven years.
"This can be used by police and tracking dogs for the scent and identifying," he said.
"This can be used by police and tracking dogs for the scent and identifying."
Once the process is completed and all of the information is burned onto a CD given to the parent, the information is securely deleted from the computers.
"We do not store the information, it is all on the CD," Heldt said.
As such parents are encouraged to make a copy of the CD and to save a hard copy with their digital records. Parents are encouraged to repeat the identifying process every two years in order to keep the information current as the Michigan Child Identification Program provides everything needed for the Amber Alert System.
"We have one of the most exclusive programs," Heldt said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children agrees and considers the program to be one of the most comprehensive of its kind.
Heldt said that years ago people in the area did not understand the brotherhood and often thought it was top secret.
"It takes time but we are trying to get out there," he said.
The Masonic Service Association seeks to provide disaster relief, education, information and service to both community and the world.
In his first year as worshipful master, Heldt has worked to bring more exposure to the Masons. The Hopper Masonic Lodge is sponsoring a gun raffle currently, will be cooking breakfast for Relay for Life and the lodge assists at the soup kitchen.
"We will soon be getting into the bullying program in the schools. It's a free program accredited by Ferris State (University) to teach about bullying and what goes on," Heldt said. "Like most organizations, we've been having a tough time getting people to join. Ours has been because we were doing nothing, so why would they join. We just put a five year plan out there and we are going to work that plan and work with other lodges."
For further information about the Michigan Child Identification program call 269-612-7424 or visit www.michiganchildid.org. Heldt may be reached at 657-3000.
Paige Edwards can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Paige on Twitter @pt_alpenanews.