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Sandy service club celebrates 110 years of service with open house, refreshments

PMG ARCHIVE PHOTO - Don Fraley and Michael Pokerwinski ride through the 1989 Sandy Mountain Festival parade, representing the Sandy Grange. When the Sandy Grange was founded 110 years ago, it was created as a place where farmers and landowners could meet and socialize.

The grange was also a vehicle for representation in the legislature on agricultural issues. While many members still visit Salem on behalf of their industry on occasion, over time the fraternity has morphed into more of a service organization. It's that change and resilience the club hopes to celebrate from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28.

In honor of 110 years of the Sandy Grange, members will host a party, complete with refreshments, a raffle, cornhole, a display of agricultural historical items and activities for all ages at the grange hall, 34705 S.E. Kelso Road, Boring.

Members like Wendy Wombles and Karen Cansler are hoping the event will not only recognize the grange's history but also remind people what a grange is.

"People don't know what the grange is now," Cansler explained. "We're the keepers of the land. The grange was formed to keep land in the ownership of farmers. Now it's something for everybody."

COURTESY PHOTO - The Sandy Grange Hall has acted as a place for members to meet and socialize for 110 years, congregating over food and farming. Cansler has been a member for 36 years, following in her mother's footsteps.

Throughout the years, the club has donated food to the local Sandy Community Action Center, purchased dictionaries for children at Kelso Elementary School, donated funds to the Starlight Foundation for children affected by AIDS, held a sock drive for the homeless, and much more.

"If someone comes and tells us they're in need, we'll help," Cansler noted. "That's just what we do."

Though service has become a focus for the Sandy Grange, Cansler said the club likes to help fairly anonymously, keeping its giving behind the scenes right in your own backyard.

COURTESY PHOTO - Besides being 'keepers of the land,' the Sandy Grange members strive to keep home skills and their history alive. "I think the anonymous gifts are the best," Cansler said. "The grange started out involved in grassroots farming and moved into community service. It's a really good part of history a lot of people don't know about. I appreciate the pride that you get from helping your community."

While some joined the grange because its activity in the community, some also appreciate membership as a way to get out and meet people.

Not all members now are farmers. Many attend the monthly dinners and bingo games for enjoyment.

"It's a way to socialize for those in a rural area," Wombles said. "It gives me something to do and people to talk to."

COURTESY PHOTO - Sandy Grange members like Karen Cansler and her mother often meet around a meal cooked in the hall kitchen.Wombles has been a grange member for seven years.

The club also hosts the occasional lesson in different homemaking skills, such as sewing, making preserves, farming techniques and the like.

Today, the club has around 30-40 members, and is always accepting new people. Membership dues for the year are $45, or $3.75 per month.

"I enjoy the people and the fun we have when we're here," Cansler said. "(On Sept. 28,) we want people to come see the building and get information so they know what the grange is about."


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