Masonic Charities P.2 – The Shriners

The Shriners, also known as Shriners International, formerly known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, is a fraternal organization that is part of the larger family of Freemasonry.

Shriners International is organized into “Temples”, which are individual chapters located in various cities around the world.

To become a Shriner, one must first become a Master Mason, and then they can choose to join the Shriners to participate in their philanthropic activities and camaraderie.

Founded in 1870, the Shriners are known for their distinctive red fez hats and their commitment to philanthropy, especially in the field of healthcare.


The history of philanthropy from the Shriners website:

During a yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Florida, local Shriners and Masonic Knights Templar worked long hours to help the sick. In 1889 fraternity members came to the aid of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood victims. In fact, many of the chapters were involved in some sort of charitable efforts.

In 1919, the Imperial Potentate Freeland Kendrick proposed establishing a hospital to provide medical care at no cost for children with orthopedic conditions.

A committee explored the idea and concluded there should not be just one hospital, but instead, an entire healthcare system throughout North America that provides pediatric orthopedic medical care regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

The first hospital opened in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1922.

The organization’s primary focus is on supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children. The hospitals are a network of specialized paediatric medical centres, providing advanced medical care, rehabilitation, and research for children with orthopaedic conditions, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate conditions, amongst others.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Shriners Hospitals is that they provide care to children regardless of their parents or guardians ability to pay.

The Shriners International state that “what began as one hospital is now a world-renowned health care system with permanent locations in three countries and additional patient connections through outreach clinics and telehealth sites around the world”.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, the hospitals are owned and operated by Shriners International. Patients are not required to have any familial affiliation with the Shriners Order, nor Freemasonry.


Read more about the Shriners history here:

Shriners Parades and Fund Raising Events

Shriner Parade – A Shriner clown posing in front of their rainbow VW van, at the Fourth of July Parade in Ferndale, California on 4 July 2016
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Shriners parades are colourful and festive processions organized by local chapters. The parades are popular events that showcase the camaraderie, philanthropy, and community involvement of the Shriners, they take place in cities and towns across the United States and other countries where Shriners chapters are active.

The parades incorporate ‘Fezzes and Fun’, and are easily recognizable by the members’ distinctive red fez hats, which are an iconic symbol of the Shriners fraternity.

Members, dressed in colourful attire, often ride in elaborate floats or march in the parade route and often feature various specialty units, each with its own unique theme and purpose.

Some of the most well-known units include the Oriental Band, which performs lively music, and the mini cars and motorcycles unit, where Shriners showcase their impressive driving skills on miniature vehicles.

While the parades are fun and entertaining, they also serve as an opportunity for the Shriners to spread awareness about their philanthropic work and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Many parades feature banners and signs highlighting the hospitals’ mission to fundraise, and the medical care they provide to children.

They may collect donations from spectators along the parade route or host events to raise funds for their charitable initiatives.

The events are family-oriented events, attracting people of all ages. In many cases, Shriners parades include participation from various community organizations, local businesses, schools, and marching bands, making them a vibrant celebration of community spirit.

They not only provide an entertaining spectacle for the public but also serve as a means for the Shriners to connect with their local community.

Shriners Hospitals


Image copyright: Shriners Hospitals for Children

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of non-profit medical facilities dedicated to providing specialized paediatric care to children with various medical conditions. While Shriners Hospitals for Children is a distinct organization, it operates in close collaboration with Shriners International.

Shriners, who are members of the fraternal organization, actively support the hospitals’ fundraising efforts and participate in various community events.

The hospitals offer specialized care, focussing on treating children with orthopaedic conditions, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate conditions.

Each hospital specializes in one or more of these areas and offers highly specialized medical care and a comprehensive range of medical services, including surgery, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech therapy, and psychological support.

They are committed to advancing medical knowledge and improving treatment outcomes for children. The hospitals and their staff actively engage in research and collaborate with other medical institutions to enhance paediatric healthcare.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Shriners Hospitals is that they provide all care and services at no cost to the patients’ families. This is made possible through the generous support of Shriners International, donations, and community fundraising efforts.



Shriners Children’s Hospital Texas Burn Center on the campus of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 3.0 International (CC BY 3.0)

Shriners Hospitals for Children operate a network of 22 hospitals across North America. These hospitals are located in various major cities, and some are affiliated with renowned medical schools and healthcare institutions.

Women Impacting Care

Women Impacting Care, chaired by Shriners International’s First Lady JoLynn Dickins, is a thoughtful group of women donors, supporters and advocates who have bonded together to help highlight services and programs of Shriners Children’s. Her program, Believe in Tomorrow, focuses on the healthcare system’s efforts to help teenage patients with life-long conditions, transition to adulthood and adult healthcare.

Patient Transportation and Shriner Volunteers

From the Shriners International website:

Each Shrine Center has a special unit of transporters called the Road Runners. For each trip, they pick up a local child and their family, drive them to a Shriners Children’s location for treatment, and then return with them back home. The transportation is at no cost to the child’s family, but the Road Runners say they are paid with smiles from children and families. 

An exclusive benefit as a Shriner is the opportunity to serve in several meaningful and mission-critical roles in support of Shriners Children’s. Shriners are elected by the fraternity’s membership to strategically guide the healthcare system’s direction through serving on Shriners Children’s Board of Directors, Board of Trustees and at a local level, as officers on each facility’s Board of Governors.

Members have other unique volunteer opportunities and are frequently seen throughout the grounds of our hospitals and outpatient facilities and at events, generously donating their time in a multitude of ways, including serving as tour guides, entertaining patients, and transporting patients to the hospitals and clinics. Our members and their families also engage in significant fundraising efforts, hosting a variety of events including golf tournaments, football games, motorcycle rides, fishing tournaments, dinner parties and dances.

Thanks to the determination, dedication and hard work of millions of Shriners and supporters over the years, the two organizations have left a lasting impact on humanity. Since opening the first Shriners Children’s location, the healthcare system has improved the lives of more than 1.4 million children. And with the help of new generations who share this passion for helping others, the organizations will continue making a difference for decades to come.

The Shriners, and the Shriners Hospitals’ commitment to philanthropy and paediatric healthcare has earned them widespread recognition and appreciation worldwide.

For more information: Shriners International

To join Shriners International:

Women Impacting Care:

Shriners Hospitals for Children:

UK Shriners Club:



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