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Kids ID Program held at Home and Health Show

February 11, 2014

Gracie Buesing stands next to the large ruler to determine her height. Height of a child is one of the many vital statistics recorded on the laminated identification card that parents or legal guardians receive from the Kids ID program.  
Gracie Buesing stands next to the large ruler to determine her height. Height of a child is one of the many vital statistics recorded on the laminated identification card that parents or legal guardians receive from the Kids ID program.
By Norma Dittman
You’ve heard the words AMBER ALERT many times when listening to the news....and you probably know that the goal of an AMBER alert is to instantly galvanize a community to assiting in the search for, and the safe recovery of, a child.

There is a program offered through the Masons that can assist authorities in their searches for missing children. In many states of the United States, the program is called Masonic CHIP. In Minnesota, it is called Kid ID.

John Cook, State Coordinator for the Mason’s Kid ID program, was present in Fulda at the Home and Health Show held on Saturday, January 25th. He came at the request of Murray Masonic Lodge #199 members who wanted to extend the Kids ID program to residents of the area. “I am the State Coordinator for the Kids ID Program. I come to assist the first time a Lodge does the program,” Cook stated. “The rule is that you must be trained in all components of the program. I may not have to ever come back a second time, but then again, I just might. I travel all over the state of Minnesota for the Kids ID Program.”

The Kids ID Computers, which are purchased by the Minnesota Masons, are stored at the Grand Lodge in Bloomington, MN, according to Cook. “The Kids ID Program is a patented program designed by a man who was in the computer business. Some of the parental worries about the Kids ID Program are that we don’t erase everything after using the child’s information. The only thing that we keep is the permission form that has to be signed by a parent or legal guardian to enable the child to participate in the Kids ID Program.” Cook explained. “None of us want the data that we gather. We just want to make sure, if there is an AMBER alert on a child, that the parents or legal guardians have the child’s vital information to share with the authorities.”

Cook shared that the Kids ID program has been a part of the Mason’s programs, in some form, for twenty years. “We were doing Kids ID back when we were using Polaroid cameras, so what happened was, as our fast world has changed, new technology came about. We got to the point we couldn’t buy Polaroid Cameras. The new process for the program has been in Minnesota for four years now. We have to give the credit for the success of the Home and Health Show Kids ID Program to the Masons of the Slayton and Fulda Communities. For them, it is about giving back to the community.”

“We have one major focus of this program and that is to try to pass on knowledge, to pass on the way a parent can help to keep their child,” Cook commented. “Fortunately, there are two parts to the Kids ID Program. The first is teaching parents about keeping their child safe. Secondly: the Kids ID Event is to support the parents in the loss of a child.”

The Masons are affiliated with the National Center in Washington, D.C. for Missing and Exploited Children. “They have recognized our program as one of the most important programs in America.They have a program that they call Take 25. In the packet of information that parents or legal guardian’s receive, there is information that askes the parent to take twenty-five minutes to sit their kid down and go over some basisc foundamentals.”

Cook explained that during a Kids ID event, a child is asked for some of their vital information. They speak into a microphone and the information is recorded. Each child is asked what their name is, where their favorite place to hide is, who their favorite friend is, where they play the majority of their play time.

“The process begins with collecting the child’s vital information, and then a photo is taken, digital fingerprints of each finger are recorded, a DNA sample is taken by swabbing the inside of the cheeks, ” Cook stated. “Once all of that information is compiled, it is recorded onto a DVD. Along with all of that information, a laminated identification card is also given to the child’s parent or legal guardian for their safe keeping.”

Should a DVD not record properly, that damaged DVD is also given into the safe keeping of the parent or legal guardian.

Cook strongly suggests that children should participate in the Kids ID program every year until they reach the age of 12. “They grow so fast and they change so very much in that twelve year time. Many of the children who come through are babies in strollers. It’s best if their information is updated yearly.”

Cook said that the Kids ID computers are used across the state of Minnesota on a weekly basis. “There are 150 Masonic Lodges across the state. The computers are always moving around,” Cook commented.

“The Kids ID program is a wonderful program. I want to stress very much that Masons don’t talk about what we do, it’s just done from the heart. And when a parent recognizes that you have done something that could help them, words cannot express how happy they are,” Cook stated.

Every state in the United States has Masonry. One-half of those states do the Kids ID or Masonic CHIP Program. It is really a process found within the Masonry, put on by the Masons.

Masons is a fraternity of brothers who believe in community support and charity giving. “That’s how they spend most of their time,” Cook added.

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